As we began overhauling our food choices about 6 years ago, we also started looking very closely at all of the toxins in our environment, not just in our food.
We looked at our personal care products, household cleaners and any other source of man made chemicals in our home. After doing some research and learning about the health impacts some of these chemicals have on our body, I went a little nutso. I ditched all kinds of products – everything from shampoo, conditioner, and lotions to toilet bowl cleaner. No joke. I tossed tons of products out the door.
Why did I go psycho on this stuff?
One reason is that 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.
Take, for instance, these common ingredients and their side effects:
Benzalkonium chloride: a disinfectant used as a preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies. Found in: sunscreens, moisturizers.
BHA and BHT: synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and may cause liver damage. Found in: lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other cosmetics.
Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients: a byproduct of coal processing that is a known carcinogen. It is used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent. Found in: hair dye, shampoo.
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA): a chelating (binding) agent added to cosmetics to improve stability. May be toxic to organs. Found in: hair color, moisturizers.
Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others): a class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation.
Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others): a class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray, and plastic materials.
Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (Vitamin A): a nutrient that may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used topically. Found in: moisturizer, anti-aging skincare.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES): SLS and SLES are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation, which is used to process other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
Sidebar: SLS in my toothpaste gave me blisters in my mouth. Try finding a SLS free toothpaste! Even Tom’s natural toothpaste contains SLS…ugh!
Why are some of these ingredients still in our personal care products and household cleaners?
I’m not sure, but one of the reasons could be that the United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938.
Meanwhile, the European Union BANS more than 1,300 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products and has restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date.
That’s cray. CRAY.
My practice is all about getting back to our roots and supporting our systems with the most natural forms of health care possible. This is why I recommend natural solutions like Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils and recommend personal care products that are free of these common harmful ingredients.
So, how do you know your products are safe?
To get started, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep app where you can scan the bar code of your personal care products and household cleaners to see how they rate in their database. The EWG monitors the toxins in our environment and sets safety standards based on all of the available scientific research. Their recommendations are well above the FDA standards and I trust their work completely.
Make sure any product you choose is EWG verified!
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P.S. Have you grabbed your Healthy Eating on the Go Guide yet? Get it HERE now and kick start your health journey ASAP!