It's scary to realize that as smart and technologically advanced as we are, we have become a product-oriented (okay, make that "desperate") culture... give me better hair, better skin, defined eyes, the best fragrances...
And why not celebrate YOU? It's both fun and a confidence booster to look and feel one's best − but the danger lies in the products out there, the ones we gravitate to... without even reading a label. Stores are flooded with more and more beautifying products − magical transforming formulas to add shine, definition, sex appeal, cleanliness, etc. etc. etc. And despite ingredient listing labels, too many of us don't even peek.
Thank you, Environmental Working Group (EWG) for a factual website and ongoing research about the products we use every day! Their information is salient and health-conscious − as is their product advice: "Use fewer products; buy only after reviewing ingredients." Their in-depth list about ingredients we need to AVOID is critical, and so I am summarizing here (CliffsNotes fashion) so that we can all be familiar with these dangerous additives. For more in-depth info, please visit the Environmental Working Group website at ewg.org. This is the stuff we need to know!
An Abridged Version of Environmental Working Group's List Of Common Ingredients To Avoid
Benzalkonium chloride: Found in household disinfectants/cleaning supplies. Linked to severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies; proves especially dangerous for victims of asthma and skin conditions like eczema. Regular exposure could result in the growth of resistant bacteria.
BHA: Found in food, food packaging, and personal care products. The National Toxicology Program states it is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” BHA produces liver damage, causes stomach cancers (papillomas and carcinomas), and interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels in animals.
Coal tar hair dyes (and coal tar ingredients) − including Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine: Labeled a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Hair stylists are continually exposed.
DMDM hydantoin & bronopol (2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol): Found in cosmetics. Listed as a human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Cancer. These preservatives decompose and release formaldehyde (linked to cancer and allergic reactions).
Formaldehyde: As discussed in our last blog, formaldehyde (a carcinogen) is used in hair straighteners. It is also released through other preservatives (such as DMDM hydantoin, quaternium, and urea compounds).
Fragrance: Companies are not required to list the actual chemicals in their fragrance mixtures... yet, they can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Consider buying fragrance free.
Hydroquinone: This skin bleaching chemical can cause a skin disease called ochronosis (marked by blue-black lesions that can become permanent black caviar-size bumps).
Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone: These preservatives (often mixed in personal care products) are considered the most common irritants, sensitizers, and causes of contact allergy. May be neurotoxic.
Oxybenzone: Sunscreen agent linked to irritation, sensitization, allergies, and a disrupted hormone system.
Parabens (Propyl, Isopropyl, Butyl, and Isobutylparabens): These estrogen-mimicking preservatives are actually found in breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied!
PEG/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds: Synthetic chemicals frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane (deemed a 'probable' carcinogen) that penetrate the skin. Although they could easily be removed from cosmetics, they are found continually.
Petroleum distillates: Most commonly found in mascara − linked to contact dermatitis and often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities. They are actually manufactured in oil refineries alongside automobile fuel, heating oil, and chemical feedstocks.
Phthalates: Found in nail polish and fragrance and linked to male reproductive system disorders. *Pregnant women should avoid nail polish containing dibutyl phathalate and everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” that may contain phthalates.
Resorcinol: Found in hair color and bleaching products; this skin irritant is not only toxic to the immune system and a frequent cause of hair dye allergy but it disrupts normal thyroid function in animal studies. (Government regulates exposures to resorcinol in the workplace, but does not restrict it in personal care products).
Retinyl palmitate and retinol (Vitamin A): Excessive amounts can cause severe birth defects if women are exposed during pregnancy. Applying to sun-exposed skin (as sunscreens, lip products, moisturizers) may allow compounds to break down and produce toxic, free radicals that can damage DNA and cause skin cancer. The Federal Food and Drug Administration indicates that when retinyl palmitate is applied to the skin in sunlight, it speeds the development of skin tumors and lesions.
Triclosan & Triclocarban: These antibacterial pesticides in soap are toxic to our aquatic environment. Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology advise that soap and water are just as effective in preventing the spread of infections. Excessive antibacterial soap use can promote the development of bacterial resistance.
Read your labels; make educated choices; and spread the word! Less is more...