Top 5 Nasties in Personal Care Products
There are toxins all around us, we are bombarded with them daily. Once you realize the enormity of the issue, it definitely begins to feel overwhelming. Some things are unfortunately out of our control, like the chemicals in the air we breathe. We have to focus on what we CAN control, and that entails the products and food that we put into and on our bodies. Knowledge is power, the only way to keep on top of it is to stay educated and read ingredient lists carefully. Here I have detailed what we think are the top five worst offenders in personal care products:
Parabens - These are preservative agents; they keep mold and bacteria at bay in skin care products. The problem is that they also have estrogen-mimicking properties (and not the good kind found in flax seeds!), which increase the risk of breast cancer. These phytoestrogens absorb through the skin and have been found in biopsy samples of breast tumors. In 2012, a study confirmed the presence of parabens in 99% of tested cancerous breast tissue. Some examples include: methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - SLS is a commonly used foaming agent, it creates the bubbly effect found in shampoos, toothpastes, and soap (think itchy skin after using conventional laundry detergent). It is a well-known skin irritant, so much so that it is used by pharmaceutical companies to create a rash on this skin so that they can test if their creams are effective at soothing the rash. SLS also has the potential to combine with other chemicals to form carcinogenic nitrosamines, which can lead to kidney and lung damage.
Phthalates - These chemicals increase the flexibility of a product and give it a smoother texture, they are most commonly found in deodorant, lotion, and nail polish. Like parabens, phthalates are also hormone disruptors, and they are just as dangerous to men as they are to women. They increase the risk for breast and prostate cancer, can create reproductive birth defects in males and females, and have even been linked to abdominal obesity and insulin resistance. These are tricky because they don’t have to be included on the label, they are often hidden in the “fragrance” ingredient. Which brings us to…
Fragrance aka “parfum” - This ingredient is basically a mixed cocktail of scent chemicals added to a dispersant (such as diethyl phthalate) plus preservatives (and sometimes dyes/colorants). It was created to provide confidentiality for a company so that they don’t have to disclose their “proprietary scent blend” lest a competitor steal it from them. The problem is, it also conceals from the consumer what the true ingredients are in the product. Fragrance can lead to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies, asthma, and much more.
Propylene glycol - An organic alcohol often used as a penetration enhancer, conditioning agent, and emulsifier. It is a known skin irritant and has been shown to cause dermatitis, hives, and contact urticaria (localized swelling and redness) in humans. This ingredient can be found in deodorant, toothpaste, moisturizers, etc.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list of all the harmful chemicals found in personal care products, it is meant to inform you of some of the most widely used ingredients that you should take extra care to avoid. A good website to check if your skincare products are safe is: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
I am the Co-Founder of a holistic body care line called Treat Yourself which creates high quality products such as Natural Deodorants, Clay Tooth Powders, and skincare from masks to moisturizers. It goes without saying, you won’t find any of the nasties listed above in any of the Treat Yourself offerings! We carefully choose each ingredient for safety, effectiveness, and purity.
~ Ariel Welch, NTP