Thursday, December 4, 2014

What Toxins Are Hiding In Your Personal Care Products?

Many of us women are obsessed with looking younger and more beautiful, but many of the products we chose may actually be leading instead to toxic bodies, and early death. Even products that are labeled "natural" or claim to have organic ingredients, need to be inspected with incredible discernment. Yes, this post may not be the most interesting read, but trust me, the health of you and your family is worth it!

Did you know that our skin absorbs 60% of everything that we put on it? That percentage increases (up to a whopping 100%!) when the product is used on young children or on sensitive areas of the skin, like the armpits or genital region.

Many toxins that are present in common body and beauty care products have been linked to serious medical conditions such as skin allergies, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, infertility, birth defects, and even cancer.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) :
“More than 80,000 chemicals permitted in the United States have never been fully assessed for toxic impacts on human health and the environment. Under the current law, it is almost impossible for the EPA to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals, even those that are known to cause cancer or other serious health effects.”
Since the cosmetic and personal product industry is the least regulated by the FDA, very little effort is ever taken on making sure that these products are deemed “safe” (not that the FDA has had a good track record of determining these things). For instance, back in 1979, the FDA commissioned that all products containing a known carcinogen, nitrosodiethanolamine (also referred to as NDEA listed in the next section), to be removed. It wasn't until 13 years later that the FDA actually began to test products to see if that carcinogen was still present, and much to their surprise about 67% of the products they tested contained NDEA.

In fact, most of these products come straight from the manufacturer to the store shelf without prior that fuzzy feeling that you get when you see a “we do not test on animals” may also mean “we do not test on humans” either.

A list of ingredients that you do not want in your cosmetic or personal care products:

*Please note that this list is not exhaustive*

1,4 Dioxane – Don't be surprised if you do not see this toxin listed in the ingredients label, because you won't find it, even though it is there. So what products contain dioxane? Mostly household products, cleaners, soaps, cleansers, shampoos, and conditioners that contain ethoxylated alcohols, polysorbates, and laureths. This little chemical has been linked to reduced immunity, nervous system disorders, miscarriages, deformity in babies, and cancer.

Artificial Colors ( Blue 1, Green 3, D&C Red 33, FD&C Yellow 5, and FD&C yellow 6) -  Some of us tend to avoid these in the food that we eat because we know that they are carcinogenic, and should not be ingested, and since our skin is quite permeable...they are also harmful when we expose body to them. Additionally, some colors may contain heavy metal impurities, including arsenic and lead, which are also attributed to cancer.

Benzoyl Peroxide – An ingredient that is found in many over the counter acne fighting products. While the greatest concern is skin irritation, this ingredient can cause organ toxicity with prolonged exposure. Benzoyl peroxide is not carcinogenic, but is listed as an occupational hazard and requires safe handling.

Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol)This ingredient is frequently listed on products that are marketed as “natural”, and is even found in brand-name baby products (such as the famous tear-free body wash in a yellow bottle, and all of its generic counterparts.) Under certain conditions, bronopol may break down into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Butylate Hydroxytoluene (BHT) – A common food preservative (frequently found in packaged foods) and fragrance ingredient in cosmetics, BHT is banned in almost every other country in the world, expect for the US. This toxin has been documented by the International Program for Chemical Safety (IPCS), to cause tissue inflammation and mutation. Additionally, BHT toxin has was present in 35% of cancerous test subjects.

Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives (Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea) – Both of these ingredients are used as preservatives and release formaldehyde, which lead to skin allergies, joint pain, depression, headaches, chest pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and much more. Approximately 20% of cosmetics and personal care products in the US contain DMDM and the frequency of contact allergy to these ingredients is much higher among Americans compared to studies in Europe.

According to the Environmental Working Group website:

“Even the industry-funded Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel recommends that cosmetic products not contain more than 0.2% formaldehyde, and does not consider formaldehyde to be safe in aerosol products (CIR 2006). However, as it stands in the U.S. there are no restrictions on the levels of formaldehyde allowed in any body-care products, no requirement to test products made with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives for levels of formaldehyde, and certainly no obligation to inform consumers that the products they use each day are likely to contain a cancer-causing chemical that does not appear on the list of ingredients. “

Lanolin – Sheep are dirty animals, and can attract bugs that stick in the wool. To prevent disease and to insure that the sheep will provide high quality wool, the sheep are often treated with pesticides. If the lanolin is not refined (which is now considered cosmetic-grade), after extracting it from the wool, the toxins are still present...and in high concentration. While some of the pesticides have been labeled “safe” because they are not acutely toxic to humans (but are highly toxic to fish and marine life), frequent low-dose exposure to pesticides has been linked to anxiety, depression, and reduced nerve fiber function. When looking for a product that contains lanolin, make sure that “hypoallergenic pharmaceutical grade lanolin” or “refined lanolin” is on the label.

MEA (Monoethanolamine), DEA (Diethaolamine),  & TEA (Triethanolamine) – A skin & eye irritant found in many foam dispenser products, shampoos, and lotions that can be easily absorbed through the skin and travel to internal organs and brain, thus posing a threat to the central nervous system.

Monoethanolamine is produced by ethylene oxide (which becomes a highly flammable gas at room temperature) with ammonia, which also produces diethaolamine and triethanolamine.

Diethaolamine and Triethanolamine aren't considered “harmful” on their own, but they can react with other ingredients (nitrites) to form nitrosamines, extremely potent carcinogens that can be absorbed through the skin.

Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, & Propyl) – Added to many products to increase shelf life and to limit microbial growth. These ingredients mimic estrogen (leading to hormone imbalances) and have been linked to breast cancer and damage to the reproductive system. Parabens are present in over 40% of the products listed in the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database.

Phthalates – Present in vinyl plastic, air fresheners, detergents, cleaning products, cosmetics, nail polish, lotions, soaps, and skin care, this toxin also interferes with the hormone and reproductive system. Over 20 years of research has been dedicated to studying this chemical, and research has suggested that phthalates are responsible for low sperm count, greater feminization of the genital region, and reduced sex hormone levels. Phthalates can not only be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy, but can also be found in breast milk.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)  - Originally created for industrial strength detergents and degreasers, these incredibly cheap chemicals are often used in soaps, cleansers, and toothpastes to create a lathering effect. While many products that contain SLES & SLS are marketed to produce shiny, and healthy hair...the exact opposite is true. These chemicals actually damage the hair follicle, skin, and in certain cases have led to permanent eye damage and blindness in children as well as liver damage and hormone disruption.

Sunscreen product toxins – Yes, the very products that are supposed to prevent cancer are believed to actually lead to cancer and to damage of our DNA. These chemicals are known as avobenzone, benzphenone, ethoxycinamate, and PABA.

Triclosan – This hormone disrupting, man-made ingredient is typically found in antibacterial products, as well as in deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, fabrics, and plastics. Even though the FDA stated back in 2005 that antibacterial soaps are no better at removing bacteria, and that triclosan (like antibiotics) actually is responsible for the emergence of resistant bacteria, manufacturers continue to add this ingredient to their products.

...and some ingredients that you may find that are listed as “unsafe”, may not be that harmful

 Polyethylene glycol (PEG), Propylene Glycol & Butylene Glycol – These glycols are used as a as humectants to bind moisture and hold water to the skin. These ingredients have very little threat of being toxic, unless the are contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane or ethylene oxide.

There is a large misconception about propylene glycol, since it is commonly confused with the industrial grade versus the pharmaceutical grade, which is used in the products that we commonly use. It is often assumed that since industrial grade propylene glycol is an additive engine coolants, paint thinners, anti-freeze, and etc. that the pharmaceutical grade should be automatically toxic. Studies on dogs and rats that were fed doses 2-5 gram doses per body weight of propylene glycol per day, showed no sign of cancer. In cosmetics, there is usually less than 50% concentration of propylene glycol.

Bottom Line

Prior to purchasing personal care products and cosmetics, LOOK AT THE LABEL. Use common sense and your gut feeling. If there are ingredients that you cannot give a confident definition of or do not know how it is extracted or processed...don't buy it. Do not instantly believe that the product is safe for application, because it is marketed as “safe” or “natural”. The Environmental Work Group's “Skin Deep Database” is an informative and reliable database that allows you to search and get information about many of the products available on the market.

Just a couple of products that my family and I currently use and recommend are Ava Anderson Non-Toxic and the plant-based age-defying Rejuvity skin care line.

Sources :
The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics –
Cancer Prevention Coalition –
Organic Trade Association –
Environmental Working Group –
Natural News –
Natural Resources Defense Council –

Article written by myself and originally posted at Bye Bye Butterball. Leettle House in Kentucky may be an affiliate of one or more of the products and banners you will see on this site. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials In Advertising.

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