Our body is our temple, right? Most of us are pretty good at ensuring the things we put into our bodies are not poisonous, damaging or harmful to our bodies, right? We wouldnt willfully eat lead or arsenic or inhale asbestos. But what about the things we put outside our bodies?
Did you know that most of our daily care products like shampoo, toothpaste and lotion are filled with dangerous chemicals? While the European Union has banned more than 40,000 dangerous chemicals in personal care products, the US has only banned around 11 dangerous chemicals. Leaving most consumers with a cocktail of dangerous chemicals seeping into our bodies every day. In this series, were gonna discuss some of the chemicals in our everyday personal care products. But there’s still hope, because I’ll also provide some great alternatives.
Take a look at some of the many chemicals you can find on the back of many everyday personal care products taken from Safecosmetics.org:
- Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
- Paraformaldehyde, a type of formaldehyde.
- Methylene glycol, a type of formaldehyde.
- Quaternium 15, which releases formaldehyde.
- The long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer.
- M- and o-phenylenediamine, used in hair dyes, which irritate and sensitize the skin, damage DNA and can cause cancer.
- 1, 4-Dioxane, Not listed on ingredient labels, 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant linked to cancer found in products that create suds, such as shampoo and liquid soap.
- Acrylates, ethyl acrylate, ethyl methacrylate, and methyl methacrylate) are ingredients found in artificial nail products
- Benzophenone, and related products, chemical linked to cancer, benzophenone is used in cosmetics such as lip balm and nail polish to protect the products from UV light.
- Butylated compounds (BHT, BHA), Concerns about organ-system toxicity and endocrine disruption led the European Union to prohibit the preservative butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) from cosmetics
- Carbon black, dark black powder used as a pigment in cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara and lipstick that has been linked to increased incidence of cancer.
- Coal tar, known carcinogen found in shampoos, soaps, hair dyes, and lotions
- Ethanolamine compounds (MEA, DEA, TEA, etc.), The European Union prohibits DEA in cosmetics due to concerns about formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines.
- Ethoxylated compounds (PPG, PEG, polysorbate, phenoxyethanol, polyoxyethylene, sulfates, emulsifying wax NF), breast cancer and other cancers
- Fragrance, The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) lists 3,059 materials that are reported as being used in fragrance compounds.Of these 3,059 ingredients, some have evidence linking them to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.
- Homosalate, potential endocrine disruptor
- Hydroquinone, cancer, organ-system toxicity, respiratory tract irritation.
- Methylisothiazolinone, allergies and possible neurotoxicity
- Mica, respiratory problems, and lung scarring
- Nanomaterials (zinc oxide, micronized titanium dioxide, micronized quartz silica, fullerenes), damage to skin cells, cell damage, and lung cell mutations
- Nitrosamines (TEA, DEA), linked to cancer
- Octinoxate, endocrine disrupter
- Parabens, endocrine disrupter
- PABA, endocrine disrupter
- Petrolatum, petroleum jelly (paraffin and mineral oil), cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists 14 PAHs as probable or possible carcinogens and one PAH as a known carcinogen. A study on Long Island, NY, found that those women with high levels of PAH-DNA adducts had a 50 percent greater risk of breast cancer
- Polyacrylamide, carcinogen
- P-phenylenediamine, organ system toxicity, cancer
- Preservatives (DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea,), Cancer, endocrine disrupters, reproductive toxicity
- Phthalates (DEP, DBP, DEHP, fragrance), endocrine disrupters, cancer, reproductive toxicity
- Quaternium-15, eye and skin irritation, allergies
- Resorcinol, skin and eye irritant, endocrine disrupter
- Retinol, cancer (possibly), developmental and reproductive toxicity
- Talc, irritation, cancer, organ system toxicity
- Toluene, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, irritation
- Triclosan, hormone disruptor and antibiotic resistance
Whoah, that’s a huge list for dangerous chemicals! How can I possibly remember all of that? Plus, I’m sure its not so bad if my favorite products have only a small amount of these chemicals, right?
Wrong. According to an article on Safecosmetics.org, it was long held that as long as a dangerous chemical was used in small amounts, it was not dangerous. This theory was put forth by a 16th century physician scientist Paracelsus. He believed that any substance was a poison if you ate too much of it and that any substance could be safe if the exposures were small enough. Research has since revealed that there are no safe exposure levels for some chemicals. For instance, lead can affect brain development even at parts per million. A dangerous chemical, is a dangerous chemical, is a dangerous chemical.
You’ll notice in the list above, most of the chemicals fall into one or all of these categories: organ system disrupter, irritant, endocrine disrupter (i.e. reproductive toxicity or developmental toxicity), or cancer-causing (carcinogen).
Considering that cancers are 70-90% environmental, meaning not caused by your genes inherited from your parents (5-10% of cancers are hereditary), is it too much of a stretch to consider the products we use as causing cancer? Or even infertility? A meta-analysis published in 2017 in the journal Human Reproduction Update found that sperm count has declined by 50% in 40 years! Miscarriages and female infertility are also increasing, at a rate of 5-10% per year according to singlecare.com. Its easy to wonder if those numbers would be different if the personal care products didn’t have these dangerous chemicals in them.
For example, take a look at some of these everyday hair care products below:
Pantene Pro-V Daily moisture renewal shampoo
Ingredients (Dangerous chemicals in bold): Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Citrate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Polyquaternium-6, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Tetrasodium Edta, Trihydroxystearin, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Histidine, Silica, Iron Oxides, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.
Herbal essences hello hydration shampoo and body wash
Ingredients (Dangerous chemicals in bold): Water/Eau, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Silk Extract, Orchis Mascula Flower Extract, Fragrance/Parfum, Cocamide Mea, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Dimethicone, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium Edta, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-6, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Blue 1.
Aussie miracle moist 3 minute miracle deep conditioner
Ingredients (Dangerous chemicals in bold): Water, Stearyl Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropy, Dimethylamine, Dimethicone Fragrance, Benzyl Alcohol, Glutamic Acid, Edta, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Ecklonia Radiata Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil. Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.
Tresemme moisture rich conditioner
Ingredients (Dangerous chemicals in bold):Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Behentrimonium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Biotin, Fragrance (Parfum), Dipropylene Glycol, Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride, Amodimethicone, Disodium Edta, Dmdm Hydantoin, Peg – 7 Propylheptyl Ether, Cetrimonium Chloride, Polysorbate 20, Peg -150 Distearate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.
We only get one body, so we owe it to ourselves to care for it, and be diligent with how we take care of it. And what products we use to care for it. I know how disappointing this list can be-especially if some “natural” products you have are filled with some of these dangerous chemicals! But there’s still hope. Consumers are becoming more aware of the dangers of chemicals in products, and companies are listening.
If you’re like me, some of those products mentioned above are your tried and true faves! It can be tough finding other personal care products that are free of dangerous chemicals. Thankfully, I’ve found a few good brands to check out (that are pretty affordable too)!
Stay Tuned for My Next Post!