Hold on tight, this one’s a doozy, and a longer read, but I promise it’s worth your time.
Let’s set the scene, shall we?
As a mom of a toddler, there’s really nothing better than a nice, hot shower after a long day, until you realize that your dove body wash is altering your hormones and increasing xenoestrogen (fake, mimicking estrogen) levels in your body.
I grew up in the Bath and Body Works era, you know, where we had gel glitter body rollers, and we smelt like the most unnatural combination of cantaloupe, pineapple and sweet pea. You, too? Good.
Unfortunately, it has come to light that lathering yourself in scented shower gels and lotions can alter estrogen levels so significantly that it shows up in saliva testing, ew.
My friend Rachel at Annie’s Apothecary has to tell ladies to lay off the Oil of Olay before handling vials for hormone readings. If just touching these tubes alters chemical readings, what do you think this would say is going on INSIDE of our bodies. I don’t know about you, but that freaks me out.
Cancer diagnoses are so common now days, that we tend to brush them off. But what if I told you, you could decrease your risk of breast cancer just by switching personal + beauty care products. You can. Natural beauty + personal care products don’t have synthetic chemicals and additives that alter hormones, are carcinogenic (cancer causing) or increase your risk for endometriosis.
Right now you’re probably thinking, how is it legal to have products like these on the shelf?
The beauty + personal care industry is basically like the wild west accompanied by a lot of ombre bronzer, baked brown sugar lotion and topped with parabens, it may smell and look good, but it ain’t pretty for your insides. In short, it’s completely unregulated.
Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products and restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date.
Chances are you’ve heard a friend or two talk about the perils of traditional beauty and personal care. I’m here to tell you, it’s time to listen. If you haven’t switched, there’s never been a better time.
Ingredients found in cosmetics, shampoos, lotions and other products we put on our bodies, face washes, sunscreens and more have been linked to everything from hormonal disruptions to cancer, and they go directly into your bloodstream when applied to the skin or hair. I think everyone can agree that using more natural products is the safest bet for you and your health.
Today I read about companies switching to nano-particles with titanium dioxide, traditionally found in sunscreens.
“Titanium dioxide is generally considered to be a relatively inert, safe material, but an increasing number of products are now using titanium dioxide nanoparticles, and that may change everything. Nanoparticles are ultramicroscopic in size, making them able to readily penetrate your skin and travel to underlying blood vessels and your bloodstream.
Evidence suggests that some nanoparticles may induce toxic effects in your brain and cause nerve damage, and some may also be carcinogenic.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies titanium dioxide as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means it’s “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This was based on an animal study showing inhaling high concentrations of titanium dioxide dust may lead to lung cancer.”
Decades of studies indicate that serious health issues (including but not limited to asthma, cancer, and infertility) are on the rise and are due in some part to our ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals—whether it’s in the shower, on our commute, while we eat lunch at a local restaurant, or when we clean our kitchens at home.
There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don’t have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skin care and beauty industry.
Just like the foods you put into your body show on the outside, the products you put on your skin can make their way into your bloodstream. A recent study confirms that what goes on, goes in; after just three days of using products free of potentially hormone-disrupting chemical ingredients, participants had remarkably lower levels of toxins in their bodies. What you put on, will go in. Your skin is 1/10th of an inch thick, absorbing everything that is put on it.
What are the toxic ingredients to look out for and avoid?
Parabens: These are estrogen-mimicking preservatives that can disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.
Benzophenone/Oxybenzone: This can be found in sunscreens and could promote the generation of potentially harmful free radicals.
Phthalates: They have the ability to mimic human hormones and can also be endocrine disrupters.
What Are 12 Ingredients to Avoid in Makeup + Skincare Products
1. Sodium lauryl sulfate
Found in: shampoo, body wash, foundation, face wash, mouthwash and toothpaste
SLS has been shown to cause or contribute to: skin irritation, canker sores, disruptions of skin’s natural oil balance and eye damage. It is also widely believed to be a major contributor to acne (especially cystic acne) around the mouth and chin.
Found in: exfoliants, perfume
The National Toxicology Program classifies butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It can cause skin depigmentation. In animal studies, BHA produces liver damage and causes stomach cancers such as papillomas and carcinomas and interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels. The European Union considers it unsafe in fragrance.
3. Triclosan and triclocarban
Found in: toothpaste, deodorant, antibacterial soap
Triclosan (in liquid products) and triclocarban (in bar soaps) have been linked to hormonal disruptions, bacterial resistance, impaired muscle function, impaired immune function and increased allergies. Instead, use naturally antibacterial and antiseptic agents like tea tree oil.
4. Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine (Coal Tar)
Found in: hair dye, shampoo
Coal tar, a byproduct of coal processing, is a known human carcinogen, according to the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Hair stylists and other professionals are exposed to these chemicals in hair dye almost daily. Europe has banned many of these ingredients in hair dyes. While FDA sanctions coal tar in specialty products such as dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, the long-term safety of these products has not been demonstrated.
Found in: makeup, moisturizer, shaving gel, shampoo, personal lubricant and spray tan products
The FDA acknowledges several studies linking parabens, which mimic estrogen, to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm count, but has not ruled that it is harmful. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders. Look for ingredients with the suffix “-paraben” as well—paraben-free products will be labeled as such.
Found in: scrubs, body wash, makeup, toothpaste
Those tiny plastic beads in face or lip scrubs and exfoliating washes are made from polyethylene (used because they’re gentler on the skin than natural exfoliators like walnut shells). These synthetic chemicals are frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which the U.S. government considers a probable human carcinogen and which readily penetrates the skin. Polyethylene has been noted as a skin irritant and should never be used on broken skin. Polyethylene beads in scrubs and body washes also are not filtered by our sewage systems, meaning they can collect pollutants and travel into waterways, where they’re consumed by fish and marine animals.
7. Retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid and retinol
Found in: moisturizer, lip products, sunscreen, anti-aging products
Retinol products (often found in anti-aging products) have the opposite intended effect and become carcinogenic in sunlight, making it extra important to only use them at night and to avoid any sunscreens containing retinol-derived ingredients.
8. Petroleum distillates
Found in: mascara
Petroleum-extracted cosmetics ingredients may cause contact dermatitis and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities. They are produced in oil refineries at the same time as automobile fuel, heating oil and chemical feedstocks.
Found in: moisturizers, deodorant, lotion, face cream, shampoo, conditioner
Federal law doesn’t require companies to list on product labels any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture. Recent research from Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name-brand fragrance products, none of them listed on the label. Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Our advice? Buy fragrance-free wherever possible.
Found in: sunscreen
Oxybenzone is one of the highest-risk chemicals found in sunscreen. It acts like estrogen in the body, alters sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women. Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system. Opt for sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium oxide or avobenzene instead.
11. Dibutyl phthalate, Toluene and Formaldehyde
Found in: nail polish and other nail products
These chemicals, known as the “toxic trio,” have been linked to birth defects, endocrine disruption, headaches and respiratory problems—especially concerning for and those who frequently get manis or pedis. It’s advised that pregnant women avoid nail products altogether. Brands like OPI and Zoya have pledged to remove these chemicals from their products.
Found in: skin lighteners
The FDA warns that this skin-bleaching chemical can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with “disfiguring and irreversible” blue-black lesions on exposed skin. Illegally imported skin lighteners can contain mercury, which can poison adults and children and is especially toxic during pregnancy. Be wary of imported skin lighteners, don’t buy products without ingredients clearly labeled, and always avoid products with “mercury,” “calomel”, “mercurio” or “mercurio chloride.”
Skip the heavy metals, parabens, phthalates and synthetic dyes and fragrances by choosing organic and clean products. The clean beauty scene is exploding, many brands are creating trustworthy, beautiful, clean, cosmetics using ingredients that are good for your body.