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7 Ingredients to Ban From Your Bathroom

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Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS) is a synthetic detergent and foaming agent connected to skin and eye irritation. It’s also linked to the byproduct 1-4 dioxane, a suspected carcinogenic contaminant produced by the ethoxylation process, used to make some ingredients less harsh. (Sodium lauryl sulfate is converted to sodium laureth sulfate, for example.) Ethoxylation is one reason why so many “gentler” products — those with a natural slant or made especially for kids — have turned up surprisingly high levels of toxins.

According to researchers at the Organic Consumers Association, who conducted tests for 1-4 dioxane on hundreds of products from 16 major brands in 2008, only 23 products were found to be free of 1-4 dioxane contamination. Many companies have quit using ethoxylated ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate to avoid 1-4 dioxane contamination as well as allergic reactions, and the standard for the Whole Foods Premium Body Care Seal doesn’t allow it. Look for “-eth” at the end of other ingredient names to detect this process.

Related: Is Your Shampoo Dangerous?

Synthetic fragrances can contain as many as 200 ingredients that manufacturers are not required to disclose. A common allergen, “fragrance” on an ingredient label is a reliable indicator that the product contains phthalates, unless it’s clearly indicated that the fragrance contains no synthetics. Higher-potency fragrances are the likeliest suspects for high concentrations of phthalates. Sophie Uliano, natural-beauty expert and author of Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life (HarperCollins, 2008), points out that “fragrance-free” or “unscented” products aren’t always a dependable alternative, since manufacturers sometimes use masking fragrances in place of identifiable scents. Look for products that explicitly say “no synthetic fragrances” or “natural essential oil fragrance only,” or try to buy from companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.

Related: The Toxic Effects of Perfume

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) are emulsifiers and foaming agents typically found in shampoo and body wash. They can produce allergic reaction as well as, ironically enough, hair and skin dryness. They belong to the category of “nitrosamines” that Uliano cautions against, which studies have shown can be carcinogenic.

Related: The Dirt on “Natural” Shampoos

Diazolidinyl and Imidazolidinyl Urea are frequently used synthetic preservatives that can cause contact dermatitis and are suspected formaldehyde releasers. They appear in sunscreen, lotion, shampoo — the same places you’ll find parabens.

The number of personal-care ingredients with unknown or suspected health effects is quite long; you can find a comprehensive list at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com.

Related:
5 Recipes for Homemade Personal Care Products
15 Toxic Ingredients in Personal Care
Beauty Beware

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Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

1287 comments

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4:46PM PDT on Jun 27, 2015

Thank you.

2:37AM PDT on May 19, 2015

I'M SO GRATEFUL THAT YOU WARNED US !!! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
I DIDN'T FIGURE I WAS PAYING TO BE POISENED !
SINCE I BELONG TO CARE2 COM, MANY THINGS HAVE ALREADY CHANGED, IN MY DAILY LIFE AND I GO ON, DAY BY DAY, LIVING A MORE RESPONSIBLE WAY... BECAUSE I'M LEARNING !
THANK TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WORK HARD TO OPEN OUR EYES AND GUIDE US TO A BETTER WAY OF LIVING.
GOD BLESS THEM AND ALL THEIR LOVED ONES

2:27AM PDT on May 19, 2015

How our coutries, with their "control offices for public safety" ( official and well paid !!! ) can let these poisons be sold legally?
How can they sleep?
This world's rules really need a deeply change!

2:26AM PDT on May 19, 2015

How our coutries, with their "control offices for public safety" ( official and well paid !!! ) can let these poisons be sold legally?
How can they sleep?
This world's rules really need a deeply change!

2:21AM PDT on May 19, 2015

How interesting... and frightening too !
I saved the 3 pages as pdf and I'm going to desintoxicate my bathroom!
After that, I'll write a brand new safety page !
Thank you very much for the huge and wonderful works you made, dear Megan, for our health ! Be generously blessed !

8:44PM PDT on May 17, 2015

Thanks for sharing, but most of these are quite hard to avoid.
At least with the shampoos I choose the least chemicals-ridden type I can find.

3:47AM PDT on May 5, 2015

In some ways the US is quite far behind the EU

7:27AM PST on Dec 19, 2014

Thank you

1:28AM PST on Nov 14, 2014

Heck! I'm going to have to check all mine!

12:50AM PST on Nov 3, 2014

hard to avoid these things.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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