From Experience Life Magazine
The following ingredients usually appear in the products we use daily — shampoo, sunscreen and the like — and general scientific consensus concludes that they’re best avoided:
Parabens are a synthetic preservative and antimicrobial agent commonly found in personal-care products with high water content: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, cleansers and body wash. They also turn up in solid products like deodorant. They appear as methyl-, ethyl-, butyl- or propylparaben. Studies have found that parabens mimic estrogen in the body and disrupt normal hormone function, and they have been found in breast-tumor biopsies.
Related: Parabens: Easy Greening
Growing awareness about parabens has inspired a number of manufacturers to banish them in favor of safer preservatives, while some have simply accepted a shorter shelf life as the price of doing healthy business. You can often find personal-care products labeled “paraben free,” which will save you a little squinting in the product aisle. Signers of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics have committed to avoiding their use; you can find the list of these companies at www.safecosmetics.org.
Phthalates are plasticizers that stabilize scent in perfume and color in cosmetics; they also keep nail polish from chipping. You won’t find them listed on most labels, though they can be present in almost every conceivable personal-care item hidden in the ingredient “fragrance.” (Company formulas are legally protected as proprietary information.) Multiple studies have linked phthalates to depression of normal thyroid function and birth defects, mostly affecting the genital development of young boys and sperm counts in adult men.
Two kinds of phthalates commonly found in cosmetics were banned in the EU with its recent cosmetic safety directive, forcing international companies to reformulate their products for the European market. A number of nail polish manufacturers have removed the “toxic trio” — dibutyl phthalate, toluene (a solvent and neurotoxin) and formaldehyde — from their nail polish formulas. Still, it’s smart to view nail polish and products with caution, especially if you’re pregnant. Water-based polishes are the most benign option.
Nanoparticles consist of ultra-tiny particles of common ingredients and are used in everything from sports clothing to car tires. They’re often found in sunscreen, to make it transparent instead of white, and in anti-aging products to help them penetrate deeper skin layers; they can be listed on labels as “microfine particles.” These “penetration enhancers” are worrisome in the company of phthalates and parabens. And, because they’re a new and quite powerful technology, environmental-health experts are also concerned about their impact on the environment once they’re washed into rivers and lakes. While the particles alone have not been implicated in health issues, many experts recommend waiting to use them until more studies have been completed.
Related: Nanotechnology and Cosmetics
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