Humans are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to our skin and hair care routines. Every day, we use the same personal care products at the start and end of our days. But, have you ever wondered what was in the products that you lather on every day? Sadly, many personal care products do not need FDA approval, which can mean years of toxic chemical exposure.
While we aren’t suggesting that you swear off all personal care products, that would be nearly impossible; you can become an avid label reader. By being aware of what ingredients are in your chosen products, you can minimize your exposure. Here are the “dirty dozen” chemicals that you should avoid!
Toxic Personal Care Products to Avoid:
Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical used in soap, face wash, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, as well as a variety of household products. Triclosan is linked to skin irritation and endocrine disruption.
Dibutyl Phthalate is primarily used in nail polish. It is a solvent for dyes and a plasticizer that keeps nail polish from getting brittle. Dibutyl Phthalate can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations. Other phthalates are used as fragrance ingredients in face and body washes, moisturizers, soaps, lotions, hair care products, and deodorant. It is suspected of causing endocrine disruption.
3. Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives are used in various cosmetics as a slow-releasing preservative. It is classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. In low doses, it can trigger skin and eye irritation as well as allergies.
4. Sodium Laureth Sulfate & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is used to make the sudsy bubbles in cleaning products like soap, hair wash, and toothpaste. It can cause irritation to the eyes and skin and is known as an environmental toxin.
Parabens of the ethyl-, methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl-, and butyl- variety, are most commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics. Parabens are suspected of endocrine disruption and possibly breast cancer.
6. BHA & BHT
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives in cosmetics and food. BHA and BHT are known to cause an allergic reaction; as well, high doses have shown connections to problems with liver, thyroid, kidney, lung, and blood coagulation function.
7. Coal Tar Dyes
Coal Tar Dyes, also called P-phenylenediamine or CI followed by a 5-digit number, is used as a colorant for hair dyes, body washes, soaps, and nail polish. Sadly, Coal Tar Dyes are linked with the potential to cause cancer as well as being contaminated with heavy metals.
8. DEA & TEA/MEA
Diethanolamine (DEA) along with Monoethanolamide (MEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) are additives used for adjusting product pH and/or act as foaming agents. They are commonly found in baby shampoo and shaving cream and have been linked to kidney and liver damage.
Parfum, also known as fragrance, is a complex mix of dozens of chemicals to give a personal care product a specific scent. Even “unscented” products can contain parfum. Parfum is an irritant that can cause allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms. It was found to trigger 3 out of 4 individuals, and evidence is suggesting that it can exacerbate asthma and even lead to the development of asthma in children.
10. Polyethlyene Glycols
Polyethlyene glycols (PEGS) can petroleum-based compounds that can be found in moisturizers, skin conditioning agents, and toothpaste. PEGS are a skin irritant and can cause extreme irritation on damaged skin.
Petrolatum, also called mineral oil jelly, is used to create barriers to lock moisture into the skin and hair. This product can easily get contaminated by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); when used on the body for extended periods of time, it is associated with cancer.
Siloxanes (cyclotetrasilxano, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane, and cyclomethicone) are used in personal care products designed to make hair products dry quicker, and antiperspirants slide on easily. These chemicals are considered toxic and may impair fertility and harm the immune system.
These “dirty dozen” personal care products could potentially have long-term adverse effects. But, that’s not all. Here are a few other toxic products we think that you should look out for as well.
Other Personal Care Products to be Wary Of:
- Retinyl palmitate and retinol: A form of vitamin A that is rich in antioxidants and anti-aging properties found in sunscreen, lip balms, moisturizers, and anti-aging products.
- Caution – cancerous skin tumors when exposed to the sun.
- Nanoparticles: Found in sunscreen and foundation.
- Caution – untested for safety
- Hydroquinone: Found in skin lightening products.
- Caution – links to cancer, skin irritant, environmental toxicity
What Should I Do?
So, the next time you go shopping for your personal care products, make sure to read the labels! If possible, only use products that DON’T have these toxic chemicals. In addition, take the time to learn what is and isn’t healthy for you. This was just a brief explanation of these toxic chemicals. If you would like to learn more about these toxic chemicals, you can download the below PDF for more information from the David Suzuki Foundation.
We are still working on setting up our shop to provide you with the highest quality programs. While we get it ready, we didn’t want you to have to wait on healthy products, which is why we created this list just for you!
If you are looking to take the leap into using healthy products, take a look at some of our favorites stores! NOTE: We are NOT affiliated with these stores; we are simply recommending them because we like them. Let us know in the comments what products are your favorite, so we can check them out!