Toxic chemicals in personal care products

Each and every day millions of we are unknowingly exposing ourselves to dangerous, toxic chemicals. Products like soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, and make-up usually contain cheap, synthetic ingredients that are suspiciously harmful. Some ingredients are suspected causing cancer, adverse nervous system reactions, birth defects, hormonal disruptions, headaches, allergies, depression, chronic fatigue, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, and irritability. Did you know your skin can be absorbing up to 60% of any substance applied to it including the nasties?

Here is a small sampling of ingredients commonly used in skin, hair, and oral care products. Here's what the labels don't tell you.

1) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). You will find these ingredients in almost all cleansers that foam, including hand wash, shampoo, body wash and toothpaste. These chemicals are even used in car washes, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. In fact, these chemicals are commonly contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen.

2) DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), & TEA (triethanolamine). These ingredients are again found in most products that foam. These hormone-disrupting chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. A Federal government study that revealed DEA and DEA-based detergents to greatly increase the risk of cancer, especially liver and kidney cancer.

3) Triclosan. The EPA registers Triclosan as a pesticide and is classified as a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Triclosan is so toxic it is measured in parts per trillion. To illustrate-one drop of Triclosan in 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools can cause hormonal disruption! This chemical is a synthetic "antibacterial" ingredient and is therefore found in most antibacterial soaps, lotions, and toothpaste.

4) DMDM Hydantoin. Just one of the many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep.

5) Triethanolamine is another immune toxicant found in many products especially skin moisturizers. It is a possible carcinogen, a respiratory toxicant, skin or sense organ toxicant. It is used in facial moisturizers, mascara, styling gel, and tanning oil.
6) Parabens are used to stop microbial growth and to extend the shelf life of the product. They will cause skin rashes, and other allergic reactions. They are extremely toxic and an immune system destroyer. Parabens are found in deodorants, perspirants and moisturizers. Paraben is known as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

7) Propylene glycol (PG) is used as a skin sensitizer. It causes scaling, hives, burning, itching and blistering. It allows other chemicals to get further into the skin increasing the level of toxins found in the blood. Propylene glycol can be found in bodywashes, shampoos, hair sprays, toothpastes, baby lotions, colognes, shaving creams, and liquid hand soaps. It is toxic to the immune system. PG is a solvent so powerful it dissolves through a stainless steel tank in 48 hours so it has to be stored in plastic drums. The EPA considers PG so toxic that it requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles. However, Propylene Glycol is used in some products in concentrations of up to 20%.

8) Fragrances. Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic (causing or contributing to cancer). Manufacturers are not required to disclose the individual ingredients as they are considered "trade secrets."

9) FD&C Color Pigments. The only purpose color pigments serve is to make the product look attractive. It serves absolutely no beneficial purpose for your skin. These color pigments are actually synthetic colors made from coal tar, containing heavy metal salts that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.

10) Mineral Oil. A petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. It interferes with the skin's ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. It slows down skin function and cell development. Note: Baby Oil is 100% Mineral Oil!

The following listed ingredients should be avoided in any concentration:

2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol (or Bronopol)
Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
Benzyl Alcohol
Boric Acid
polyethylene glycol
Dibutyl Phthalate
Dimethylol Dimethyl Hydantoin (DMDM Hydantoin)
Sodium Fluoride

The following ingredients do not pose a serious threat if they are not among the first three to five listed on the label:

Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Isopropyl Alcohol
Octyl Methoxycinnamate
Propylene Glycol
Sodium Borate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate

This article relies heavily on the information gathered by the Environmental Working Group in their cosmetics safety database.