A helpful educational glossary on what to look for and avoid in beauty and household products - and why
Our world is laden with toxic chemicals that in no way shape or form should be near our bodies. We use more than 2,000 chemicals in our homes but fewer than 200 have been tested for their impact on human health (Natural Resources Defense Council). Everyday we hear about someone new who is battling cancer, has a tumor, or is dealing with a chronic health issue that simply won't go away, and we have to believe this is part of the cause.
Our skin is our largest organ and 60% of what we put on it (either purposefully or inadvertently), gets absorbed directly into our blood stream. Our babies are even more suseptable given the fragility of their skin.
Try reading the labels of some of the products under your sink and in your cleaning cabinet. Many will describe how they shouldn't be put on our near your skin or can cause irritation to your eyes or lungs. Marketing has done a fabulous job of creating the belief that this means they're doing a better and more effective job., which simply just isn't the case.
Not only that, the EU bans over 1300 ingredients in personal care and cosmetics because they are either known toxins or carcinogens, where the US only bans 12. Everyday, the average woman is putting 126 unique chemical ingredients on her skin and into her bloodstream ( EWG.org).
We deserve better.
Ingredients to be avoided and why
*IMPORTANT NOTE ON ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS
All of the ingredients an * are among the worst endocrine disruptors. The endocrine system regulates ALL biological processes in the body, including: development of the brain and nervous system, growth and function of the reproduction system, metabolism and blood sugar levels, ovaries, testes, pituitary, thyroid and the adrenal glands.
Legally hides an untold number of chemicals (“trade secret”). Harmful because it likely contains Phthalates*, just one of many chemicals legally hidden in the ingredient “fragrance,” and linked with birth defects, breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, autism and ADHD. (Campaign for Safe Cosmetics–2002 “Not Too Pretty” Report)
A group of compounds used as preservatives, derived from petroleum. Studies have linked these endocrine disruptors, which mimic estrogen, with breast cancer, allergic reactions and skin rashes. A 2011 study by the California Pacific Medical Center linked BPA/ methylparaben with breast cancer, and the combination blocked effectiveness of cancer drugs, like tamoxifen.
An active ingredient in “antibacterial” products; registered with the government as a pesticide. Studies show that triclosan interferes with the body’s thyroid hormone metabolism and is an endocrine disruptor. It has also been shown to weaken muscles, including the heart. Children exposed to antibacterial compounds at an early age have an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma and eczema. A 2012 study links it to muscle weakness, including the heart muscle, and it contributes to liver and inhalation toxicity.
Used in some hair products for shine, and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. Petrolatum is a petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
*OXYBENZONE & OCTINOXATE
Synthetic chemical sunscreen “active” ingredients. Synthetic chemical sunscreen “active” ingredientsEasily absorbed, and can lead to skin irritation/other adverse reactions; can generate cell-damaging free radicals when exposed to the sun. Oxybenzone is a suspected hormone disruptor (mimics, blocks, and alters hormone levels).
PEGs or polyethylene glycols are petroleum by-products. Contain carcinogenic contamination 1,4-dioxane, known to affect liver and kidneys.
SLS SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) AND SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES)
Used in products to create suds or foam ( which is NOT necessary for effective cleaning). Classified as a drug in bubble baths because it eats away skin protection and causes rashes/infection. SLS may also be contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines. A study indicated that SLS penetrated into the eyes as well as brain, heart, liver, etc., and showed long-term retention in the tissues. The study also indicated that SLS penetrated young children’s eyes and prevented them from developing properly and caused cataracts to develop in adults. (Univ. of Georgia Medical College) SLS may also cause hair loss.
INGREDIENTS ENDING IN “-ETH”INCLUDING CETEARETH AND TRICETEARETH
Can carry carcinogenic contamination of 1,4-dioxane (a known carcinogen).
Found in many sunscreens and moisturizers. In the presence of sunlight, retinyl palmitate enhances skin cancer lesions by 21%. (FDA, 2011)
Pulverized metals like zinc and titanium used in products (not required to list on label). Nanoparticles have been shown to cross the cell barrier and drive into organs, including the brain.
ALUMINUM & METALS
Active ingredient in many anti-perspirants. This bio-accumulative neurotoxin stores in fat cells and accumulates, destroying nerve tissue.
DEAS INCLUDING DIETHANOLOMINE (DEA), COCAMIDE DEA, LAURAMIDE DEA
A study suggests that prenatal exposure may have detrimental effects on brain development. Reacts with other ingredients to become nitrosodiethanolamine, a known carcinogen.
FORMALDEHYDE RELEASERS INCLUDING DMDM HYDANTOIN, DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA, QUATERNIUM-15
Can cause allergic reactions in the eyes, nose, throat and skin, joint pain, headaches, immune dysfunction and can lead to asthma. It may also cause menstrual disorders in women. Research studies suggest that exposure to formaldehyde may increase the risk of various forms of cancer as well.
SYNTHETIC COLOR/DYES A MIXTURE OF MANY CHEMICALS; MADE FROM COAL TAR, A DERIVATIVE OF PETROLEUM
Coal tar is a known carcinogen. Aluminum compounds and heavy metals found in many dyes are toxic to the brain.
A synthetic petrochemical mix known to cause allergic and toxic reactions. Linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive issues, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and liver and kidney damage.
A common ingredient that coats skin like plastic wrap. Derived from petroleum; may be contaminated with cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Aggravates acne and negatively impacts skin function, causing premature aging. Disrupts the skin’s natural immune barrier, inhibiting its ability to breathe, absorb moisture and nutrition, and release toxins.
Belongs to asbestos family. Linked to ovarian cancer; dangerous to inhale.
*SILOXANES CYCLOMETHICONE AND INGREDIENTS ENDING IN “SILOXANE” (EX. CYCLOPENTASILOXANE)
Toxic, persistent, and have the potential to bio-accumulate. The EU classifies some as endocrine disruptors and possible reproductive toxicants that may impair fertility. Research shows some to cause uterine tumors and harm to the immune system.
*BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUENE (BHT)/BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA)
Found in many cosmetics and personal care products, BHT and BHA slow down the rate at which product ingredients change in color. Immune system toxicant; endocrine disruptor; probable human carcinogen; animal studies show brain, liver, neurotoxin, reproductive and respiratory toxicant.
A propellant often used in hair spray, gel, mousse, and shaving cream. May contain carcinogenic contaminant 1,3-butadiene.
METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE (M1) AND OTHER “ISOTHIAZOLINONES”
A recent study found these chemicals may be linked to nerve damage. Researchers also recently found these chemicals damage brain cells in animal studies – stating, “a brief exposure (10 minutes) to methylisothiazolinone, a widely used industrial and household biocide, is highly toxic to cultured neurons.” Although used in leave-on products, methylisothiazolinone is known to be sensitizing when used in leave-on products. In fact, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named methylisothiazolinone its Allergen of the Year in 2013.
Some Products That Should Be Avoided All Together
Air fresheners contain secret fragrance mixtures that can trigger allergies and asthma. Open windows, use fans or diffuse essential oils!
“Antibacterial” means that the product contains pesticides that kill bacteria, viruses or molds. Pesticides are listed as “active ingredients” on the label. Avoid these cleaners. Antibacterial products can spur development of drug-resistant superbugs
FABRIC SOFTENER AND DRYER SHEETS
Fabric softener and dryer sheet ingredients can cause allergies or asthma and can irritate the lungs. Infuse wool dryer balls with lavender or lemon essential oil.