Chemicals – we are surrounded and engulfed by them on a daily basis. Although everything is essentially made up of chemicals, it is well known that some have more of a harmful effect that others. Even with this knowledge, oftentimes people overlook the not-so-great information about certain ingredients in their quest for convenience. The biggest example of this is in the use of everyday beauty and personal care products. Did you know that, on average, women place over 200 chemicals on their bodies through the products they use… daily!?? Even more concerning is the fact that most people are truly unaware of what beauty product chemicals are actually in the items they’re using and what the possible side effects of these chemicals are.
As cancer, hormone, and endocrine disorders are on the rise – it would certainly benefit our overall health to be more conscious of the ingredients we are indulging in on a daily basis.
The good news is that recently the clean beauty movement has started to become popular and many women are rallying around it. Now with more options to choose from, it is becoming easier to select personal care products that aren’t loaded with toxic beauty product chemicals.
So which ingredients should be on your radar?
The most prevalent ingredient that people should be on the lookout for is parabens. Parabens are a class of preservative chemicals that keep products from going bad. Many mainstream products such as lotions, shampoos, skincare, and makeup contain parabens in order to extend their shelf life. The biggest concern with parabens is that they can mimic estrogen and therefore can alter reproductive and hormone functions within the body – especially for females.
The next time you are at the store stocking up on your favorite products be on the look out for the “paraben free” label!
Another common hormone disrupting ingredient class is that of phthalates.
Phthalates are actually plastic particles that contribute to the texture of certain personal care products such as cosmetics, nail polishes, and hair care items. Phthalates have been shown to affect the endocrine system and some studies have shown a possible link to birth defects.
Phthalates can be tricky at times to locate in a list of ingredients as oftentimes the names are long and abbreviated. Look for 3 letter abbreviations such as DBP and DEP with the “P” typically representing phthalate.
Another ingredient that you most certainly will want to be on the lookout for is formaldehyde.
Many people are aware that formaldehye is not great for the body and in fact this beauty product chemical is a known carcinogen – but many people do not know that it is commonly found in personal care products. Products such as shampoos, hair products, nail polishes, and body washes contain ingredients that create formaldehyde and its byproducts. As these ingredients do not contain formaldehyde in the name, they can be easily overlooked.
Such ingredients to stay away from are DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium-15, Bronopol, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, and Hydroxymethylglycinate.
While this may be overwhelming at first to scan ingredient lists, I encourage you to start small.
Start with these 3 ingredients and once you begin to feel comfortable with both identifying these beauty product chemicals and finding products that are free of these ingredients – you can begin to add more to your “no list.” Even small steps such as this can make a huge impact on your overall health and well being.
After all, health and wellness is so much more than the exercise and diet.
Everything that your mind and body consumes, whether it be by the food that we eat or the products that we place on our bodies, contributes to our ultimate state of well being. If you’d like to read even more about these specific beauty product chemicals, here’s the list of references I used as research for this post:
Beane Freeman L, Blair A, Lubin JH, et al.2009. Mortality from lymphohematopoietic malignancies among workers in formaldehyde industries: The national cancer institute cohort. Journal of The National Cancer Institute. 101(10):751-761.
Darbre PD, Aljarrah A, Miller WR, Coldham NG, Sauer MJ, Pope GS. 2004. Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. J Appl Toxic 24(1): 5-13
Duty SM, Calafat AM, Silva MJ, Ryan L, Hauser R. 2005. Phthalate exposure and reproductive hormones in adult men. Human reproduction (Oxford, England) 20(3):604-610.
Huang PC, Kuo PL, Guo YL, Liao PC, Lee CC. 2007. Associations between urinary phthalate monsters and thyroid hormones in pregnant women. Human reproduction (oxford,England) 22(10):2715-2722.