The Ugly on Beauty Products
- Wednesday, 16 July 2008
We see more and more consumers taking the time to read nutritional labeling on food products at the grocery store. People are consciously making healthier choices about the food they eat. However, what about personal care products? Taking time to read the labels on items such as shampoo, moisturizer, body wash and toothpaste is just as important as reading food ingredients.
There are two things to consider before you cover your body with these so called beauty products. First, many of these products contain toxic chemicals that are absorbed through your largest organ, your skin. Studies have shown that a number of these chemicals are linked to a plethora of human diseases including cancer, neurological disease and eye damage. Rinsing them away quickly and thoroughly may reduce these harmful effects. However, consider the environment as well. These products are washed down the drain and into our lakes and streams where they contaminate our drinking water and are absorbed by aquatic life.
Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS) is one such ingredient that has come under scrutiny. This chemical is a foaming agent used to help spread products like toothpaste and shampoo. When applied to the skin, this product dissolves natural body oils and leaves the area dry. This same chemical is used as a commercial degreaser and garage floor cleaner! According to the Material Safety Data Sheet that details the safe handling of chemicals, SLS poses a hazard through inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestion. It also states that SLS causes mild irritation to the skin. Globally, SLS is used in clinical studies as a skin irritant.
Many companies that incorporate SLS in their products claim that, in small amounts, SLS is not harmful. This may appear to be true since the majority of people use several products containing SLS daily without any noticeable side affects. However, studies are now showing a variety of long term effects from the use of this substance. SLS has been connected to eye damage if not properly rinsed away. In addition, residual levels have been found in the heart, liver and lungs, and it may cause damage to the immune system, especially within the skin.
Concerned consumers have prompted companies to produce SLS free products that are readily available. It is now possible to find in many drug stores toothpaste, shampoos and conditioners that do not contain this chemical.
More recently, another chemical found in many bath products has started a controversy of its own. This chemical preservative is labeled as methyl, propyl, butyl or ethyl paraben. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency reported these preservatives displayed estrogenic activity. This means these chemicals mimic hormones found naturally in your body and could possibly affect every system. Although studies are just beginning on parabens, it is certainly worth taking into consideration when purchasing your next bath product.
It is perplexing that such harmful chemicals are permitted to be included in products that come into contact with our skin. The FDA, who is responsible for regulating personal care products, spends little time and money investigating them. In addition, manufacturers have the freedom to use chemicals in their products even though they are known to be hazardous and carcinogenic. Use of these chemicals is inexpensive and the public is often unaware of the potential hazards.
It would take a pocket sized glossary of terms to decipher the ingredients listed on a shampoo bottle just to avoid products with toxins. There are healthier alternatives such as commercially produced natural toothpastes, body washes, etc. Even with alternatives it is still important to read the labels. In addition, recipes are widely available on the internet for homemade bath products. By choosing to make your own products, you are in control of what goes on your body and you send a message to manufacturers that consumers want better, less toxic options. If you are willing to go organic with your food and "green" with your household cleaning products, then it is time to go "non-toxic" with your personal care items!
Here is a short list of toxins found in many beauty products:
- Methylisothiazoline (MIT)- Has been known to cause neurological damage in lab rats.
- Alcohol, isopropyl (SD-40)- Drying and irritating solvent that can strip skin's moisture.
- FD & C color pigments- Animal studies have shown theses to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
- Fluoride- Can be a cumulative poison.
- Diethanolamine (DEA)- May cause cancer.
- Aluminum- Has been linked to nerve damage and brain disorders.
- Quarternium-15- AKA Formaldehyde, which may weaken the immune system (this is found in children's body wash.)
To inquire about the toxicity of your favorite beauty product go to CosmeticsDatabase.com.
Trying going shampoo free! Look at: NaturalFamilyOnline.com.