Our quest for beauty and attractiveness may be damaging our health and the health of the planet. Many personal care products contain toxic ingredients that we need to avoid. Here are the ingredients to avoid, the products in which they are typically found, and ways to detox your personal care products.
Methyl, propyl, putyl, and ethyl parabens: Used to extend the shelf-life of products, they are highly toxic, carcinogenic, and cause skin conditions.
Synthetic colors: These colors go by names like FD&C or D&C followed by a number. They are known to cause cancer. Even toothpaste and toothbrushes contain these harmful ingredients. Yes, that toothbrush with the colored bristles that supposedly tells you when to throw out your toothbrush is a problem. The dye is readily absorbed through the mucus membranes in your mouth into your bloodstream. Choose products devoid of colors or ones that obtain their color from natural earth minerals and pigments.
Petrolatum: Mineral oil and jelly that promotes sun damage and leads to dry skin and chapping, as well as skin conditions. Products containing petrolatum usually claim to alleviate the very conditions they create. It is found in petroleum jelly products and even in baby oil.
Sodium laurel sulphates: Used in shampoo, body wash, and soap to cause lathering, it also causes skin conditions, hair loss (check out natural ways to boost hair growth), eye irritations, dandruff, and allergic reactions. Avoid products that contain this ingredient even if it is supposedly sourced from coconut.
Imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea (Germall II and Germall 115): Commonly used preservatives in many personal care products and cosmetics and cause skin conditions. The latter releases cancer-causing formaldehyde when it is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
PVP/VA copolymer: A petrochemical used in hairspray, perm solutions, and many cosmetics. The particles may stay in the lungs, causing respiratory concerns.
Stearalkonium chloride: Used in hair conditioners and skin creams, it is a highly toxic ingredient developed by the fabric industry originally as a fabric softener (yes, that means fabric softeners are toxic too).
Fragrance: Any of over 400 ingredients, mostly derived from petrochemicals, “fragrance” causes hyperpigmentation of skin, headaches, asthma, joint pains, muscle pain, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, raised blood pressure, dizziness, rashes, skin irritation, and coughing, to name a few. Choose products that contain only essential oils (not “fragrance oils”) if you want a scent. Better yet, make your own perfume blend with essential oils. I’ll give some suggestions in an upcoming blog.
Dioxin: A known carcinogen, dioxin is used in many feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads. Dioxins absorb through the skin and are linked to immune disorders, endometriosis, and cancer of the reproductive system. Choose natural feminine products devoid of dioxin from your health food store.
Fluoride: Stay clear of toothpaste that contains fluoride. The average person is getting excessive amounts of fluoride from water. Fluoride does NOT protect teeth and excessive amounts of fluoride are linked to cancer.
Coal tar: Found in most hair dyes, coal tar is linked to numerous types of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Choose natural hair colors or hennas if you must dye your hair.
Lead: A heavy metal linked to brain disease and many other illnesses, lead is commonly found in many cosmetics, particularly lipstick.
No, I am not suggesting avoiding personal care rituals and hygiene. There are many great natural products free of toxic ingredients at your local health food store. There are natural shampoos, conditioners, soaps, moisturizers, perfumes, hair dyes, toothpaste, tooth brushes, feminine hygiene products, and many others. If you don’t like one brand, don’t assume all natural products are ineffective. Many work far better than their chemical counterparts. You’ll be glad you made the effort…and so will Mother Earth.