Most, if not all of us, use some health and/or beauty product or another. Whether it be your antiperspirant you put on after your morning shower or the anti-bacterial soap you use to regularly wash your hands, you may unknowingly be getting exposed to toxic, carcinogenic ingredients that have been shown to have a detrimental effect on your health with short and long term exposure. Health care and beauty products are typically applied directly to the skin and therefore these ingredients like parabens, mineral oil, and formaldehyde, are being absorbed directly into your blood stream through your skin. Ingredients like synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde releasers release toxic vapors into the air and are likely to be inhaled into your respiratory system. Companies are widely using these toxic ingredients because they are usually extremely cheap, versatile, and easy to come by. However, they seem to only consider their increased profits from lower manufacturing costs, and neglect the effects these ingredients have on human, animal, and environmental health. The Environmental Working Group has collaborated a website called Skin Deep which gives consumers access to information on what ingredients are found in the products they are using and the possible health risks of such ingredients. Also, here is a local company, JC Pure, whose products avoid the use of these types of ingredients.
Parabens are widely used, synthetic preservatives that are added to health and beauty products to ensure a long shelf life and to prevent the growth of harmful molds, yeasts and bacteria. The most commonly used parabens in health and beauty products are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, and often times, are combined with other types of preservatives. Parabens have been shown to mimic the hormone estrogen, which has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. This is because parabens are fat-lovng chemicals that get stored in the fatty tissues of the body. Because they mimic estrogen, the parabens store in the fatty tissue of the female mammary glands. Health care and beauty products containing parabens include, but are not limited to: lotions, toners, moisturizers, shaving gels, and toothpastes.
Mineral oil and it’s relatives
Mineral oil is a clear, odorless oil that is derived from petroleum, which as we all know is crude oil extracted from deep within the Earth. Mineral oil has been refined and purified and has been deemed safe for use in cosmetics. Mineral oil is widely used based on the fact that it is extremely easy to come by and is just as inexpensive, making it a viable ingredient for health and beauty product companies. Mineral oil is typically used because it has shown to rarely cause allergic reactions and has wonderful moisturizing properties. While this holds true, mineral oil is not a very “breathable” oil. Meaning, once it is applied over top of the skin, it basically creates a shield to trap in moisture. This may sound promising, however, over time this can lead to clogged pores and a slew of other skin conditions because the skin simply could not “breathe” through the film of oil. Products containing mineral oil and its relatives, petrolatum and paraffin oil include, but are not limited to: baby oil is 100 percent mineral oil, eyeshadow, concealer, facial powder, blush, styling gel/lotion, hand cream, and Vaseline(petrolatum).
Aluminum is the most abundant metal found on planet Earth, making it very inexpensive and easy to come by, thus perpetuating the occurrence of aluminum toxicity. The derivative aluminum chlorohydrate is widely used, mostly in antiperspirant deodorants because of its ability to decrease sweat production leaving your underarms sweat and odor free. Long term exposure to aluminum has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It doesn’t take much to induce aluminum toxicity, only about 400ppm. Short term symptoms of aluminum toxicity include memory loss, learning difficulty, loss of coordination, disorientation, mental confusion, colic, heartburn, flatulence, and headaches. Products that contain aluminum chlorohydrate and other aluminum derivatives include, but are not limited to, antiperspirant deodorants, body lotions and creams, shampoos and conditioners, toothpastes,vaccines and even baking powder. Your best defense against aluminum toxicity is consumer awareness. In other words, inform yourselves and read labels.
Most people think that the flowery scents in fragrances and other scented products are derived from plants and flowers, which sometimes, this is the case, especially if you make your own. However, most the time synthetic fragrances are most often the key ingredient to these scents. As a matter of fact, roughly 95 percent of chemicals in fragrances are synthetic compounds that have been derived from petroleum. Fragrances often times contain large amounts of phthalates. Phthalates are known to be estrogen and testosterone disruptors. Synthetic fragrances can cause allergic reactions on and irritate the skin, cause contact dermatitis when they come in contact with skin from a surface or in the air, can affect the nervous system, modify brain function, alter blood pressure and mood, trigger migraines, create or exacerbate respiratory conditions, and can induce asthma in young children. There are too many products that contain synthetic fragrance chemicals to name, so the best way to avoid these types of ingredients is to be aware, inform yourself and read the labels of products. There are many companies now-a-days that offer natural, organic products that contain minimal, if any, harmful, toxic ingredients that can replace the chemical concoctions so widely used today. So your best way to avoid the health issues related with synthetic fragrances is to go natural!
MEA(monoethanolamine), DEA(diethanolamine), and TEA(triethanolamine)
These are amino alcohols that are used in health and beauty product formulations as emulsifiers, thickeners, detergents, and alkalizing agents. They are known to form carcinogenic (cancer causing) nitrates and nitrosamines and their use has already been restricted in Europe because of their known carcinogenic effects. Formulations with these ingredients can cause skin and eye irritation, contact dermititis, and long term exposure to these chemicals has been linked to liver and kidney cancer. These chemical ingredients are most commonly found in products that foam, such as bubble bath, body washes, shampoos, soaps, and facial cleansers. Other products these chemicals are found in include, but are not limited to: body lotions, cleansers, and shaving cream.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers
Most likely, you have heard of formaldehyde. It is a colorless, flammable gas found in health and beauty products as a preservative, but most of you may recognize it as a preservative for cadavars and such. It is also used in the manufacturing of fertilizer, paper, plywood, and as a preservative in medicines and vaccines. Most commonly it is used as a solution called formalin. Some commonly used formaldehyde releasers are quaternium-7,15,31,60 etc., imidazolindnyl and diazolidnyl urea(which by the way may be obtained from animal urea!) and DMDM hydantoin. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, has been banned from use in cosmetics in Japan and Sweden, requires labeling in the European Union and is known to cause allergic reactions on the skin, skin irritation, contact dermatitis, headaches and chronic fatigue. Formaldehyde releasers, such as those listed above, may cause joint pain, cancer, skin reactions, depression, headaches, chronic fatigue, and insomnia. The products containing formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers includes, but are not limited to: nail polish, nail glues, eyelash glues, and hair straightening products.