Does your daily personal care product contain any harmful ingredients? Think about the number of personal care products you use every day. Your morning starts with brushing your teeth, followed by styling, shampoo and shower gel. Then shaving cream, perfume, deodorant, makeup… The list goes on and on. And this is just your morning routine.
We all know that everything you put on your body will affect your health. But many people don’t realize that what you put on your body is also harmful to your health. We always pay attention to nutrition labels, but when was the last time you checked if a personal hygiene product contained any harmful ingredients?
From skin care to cosmetics, from shampoos to body lotions, Americans apply an average of nine personal care products to their bodies every day. This means that many of us are exposed to about 112 unique chemical ingredients before we even go out in the morning. If you’re a woman who wears makeup, that number is probably much higher.
Can the ingredients in personal care products be harmful to your health? Make no mistake about it! Chemicals and other harmful substances are absorbed from the skin into the bloodstream and exposure to harmful substances increases with time.
Ultimately, exposure to harmful ingredients in personal care products and cosmetics can lead to allergies, hypersensitivity, cancer, congenital malformations and other serious health problems. The choice of using personal care products containing harmful ingredients can have a significant impact on your overall health, now and in the future.
What every consumer should know about personal care and the beauty industry
In the United States alone, the personal care and beauty industry generates about $50 billion in annual sales. In other words, it is one of the largest and most marketable industries in the United States.
Whether you are a man, woman or a child, you probably use different personal care products on a daily basis.
The government approves the use of about seven new chemicals every day. Many of them are approved in just a few weeks, and most have only minimal safety tests. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals are found in cosmetics and toiletries that we use every day.
The FDA does not regulate the safety of personal care products and cosmetics. Instead, these products are managed by a panel called Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR). This panel, funded and established by the industry, has raised serious concerns about the bias and accuracy of safety testing of personal care products.
Unfortunately, many people believe that their cosmetics and personal care products are safe because they are on the shelves of pharmacies and department stores, but that is simply not the case. The harmful ingredients used daily in personal care products pose a serious health risk.
Harmful ingredients in personal care products affect your health
The most common harmful ingredients in personal care products
If you want to remove harmful ingredients from your personal care routine, start by looking at the ingredients in the products you already have. Then, when buying a new personal care product, check the label in the same way as the food label in the grocery store.
Here are the most common toxic ingredients to avoid in your personal care and cosmetic products.
BHA and BHT
BHA and BHT are two harmful ingredients in personal care products, which are used as preservatives in skin care and cosmetics. In some people, they can not only cause severe allergic reactions, but are also potential endocrine disrupters and carcinogens.
Parabens are harmful ingredients found in personal care products, which are used as preservatives. They prevent the growth of yeasts, molds and bacteria. Although this may sound good in theory, parabens can actually mimic estrogen in the body. This can increase the risk of breast cancer. Parabens were found in biopsy samples of breast tumors.
Toluene is a petrochemical product that may appear on the label of ingredients such as toluene, methylbenzene, phenylethane, toluolol or benzene. It is a strong solvent that can be used as a diluent. Pregnant women should avoid this at all costs as it can inhibit the development of the fetus. Toluene is also known to cause skin irritation and has an adverse effect on the respiratory system. It is also found in hair dye products, bleaches and nail polishes.
This toxic ingredient is usually mentioned in personal care products as diethyl phthalate, dimethyl phthalate or dibutyl phthalate. It is usually found in lotions, deodorants, hair sprays, perfumes, nail varnishes, etc. Phthalates are known to disturb the endocrine system. This may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer and an increased incidence of early breast development and birth defects in children. Sometimes phthalates are hidden in the aroma of the product. It is best to avoid products with any type of artificial scents listed on the label.
Propylene glycol is a commonly used toxic component in personal care products such as body lotions and shampoos. It is known to irritate the skin and can cause dermatitis and urticaria in some people.
Triclosan is a popular antibacterial agent found in toothpastes, hand care products, antibacterial soaps and deodorants. It can cause hormonal disruptions that affects reproductive hormones and the thyroid glands. For many people it is also a skin irritant.
Synthetic dyes are usually labelled as “FD&C” or “D&C” on the ingredient label, followed by a number. These colors are derived from coal tar and oil and can cause severe skin irritation in some people. It is also associated with ADHD in children. More worryingly, synthetic dyes are banned in the European Union because they are considered to be carcinogenic to humans.
Preservatives that release formaldehyde or formaldehyde are contained in personal hygiene products to prevent bacterial growth. However, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and can be dangerous to health. It can also cause serious allergic reactions in some people and can have a negative effect on the immune system.
Fragrances and aromas
Fragrances are one of the most harmful ingredients in personal care products because they are a used for hiding other toxic ingredients. Many chemicals are hidden in personal care products and can be identified by the term fragrance or one of its pseudonyms. Some of these fragrant chemicals are known to be harmful to the reproductive system. It is also known to interfere with the production of the endocrine system, which can cause hormonal imbalances. These scents are also a major cause of respiratory problems, allergies and dermatitis, affecting many people with hypersensitivity.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Over 90% of personal hygiene products contain these harmful surfactants. If the product makes foam, it is likely to contain sulfates. Unfortunately, sulfates are known to irritate the eyes, skin and lungs. There is also a concern that sulfates may interact with other chemicals to produce cancer-causing nitrous amines.
Avoiding harmful ingredients in personal care products
How do you protect your family from harmful ingredients in body care products and cosmetics?
Protect yourself and your family by taking the following steps to avoid exposure to harmful ingredients in the personal care products, skin care products and cosmetics you use every day.
Familiarize yourself with these harmful ingredients and eliminate them from your life.
Read the labels carefully and look for clean cosmetic products that have the USDA eco-label. Products with this seal must be at least 95% organic.
If you can’t afford to throw away a product that contains toxic ingredients, replace it with a safer alternative when it’s gone.
Look for natural care ingredients that can replace harmful chemicals. Tea tree oil, for example, kills bacteria and germs on the skin perfectly, so it is an effective natural alternative to toxic triclosan in personal care products.
To learn more about harmful ingredients in cosmetics and personal care, visit the website of the Environmental Working Group (EEC). They have an extensive database of over 25,000 personal care products. Each product is rated on a scale from 0 to 10, depending on its toxicity level.
Exposure to all harmful toxins cannot be avoided. However, damage to the body, which increases over time, can be minimized. Choosing clean and organic personal care products, cosmetics and food is a great place to start.