You are super conscious about what you put in your mouth. Maybe you even put Vitamin C powder into your bath water to neutralize the chlorine. You know that your sweet, sensitive skin is not an impenetrable barrier to all toxins. But many of the chemicals in cosmetics are chosen specifically because they can penetrate the skin. They end up inside our bodies where they can cause all sorts of damage to our delicate inner ecosystems.
The cosmetic industry is surprisingly unregulated, subject to no FDA-required safety tests. Even catchy buzzwords like “natural” and “organic” are no guarantee of purity or safety. Many harmful, synthetic chemicals can still be present in amounts up to 30% in a product marketed as “made with organic ingredients.” It’s important to read labels and recognize the known offenders so that you are as informed about what you put on your mouth as you are about what you put in it.
According to the Environmental Working Group, “The average woman uses 12 products containing 168 different ingredients daily”! And that is just for body care. While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a good starting place to help you steer clear of “The Evil Eight”:
All are known cancer-causing agents. Europe has restricted their use for this very reason. TEA ingredients are highly acidic and severe irritants, especially to the eyes. These are the chemicals that give the foamy suds to your body washes, soaps, and shampoos.
2. Mineral Oil
This oil is a by-product of petroleum hydrocarbons that seals the skin, the body’s largest organ of elimination, making it impossible to release toxins. Mineral oil has been shown to cause organ toxicity, ovarian dysfunction, endometriosis, miscarriages, and damage to the immune system. Found in baby oil, moisturizers, styling gels, and conditioners.
Parabens are estrogen-mimicking preservatives that are found in almost every cosmetic cream product to prevent the growth of fungus and mold. They are also widely used in underarm deodorants, are absorbed through the skin, and stored in fat cells. Researchers found high levels of six different parabens in 20 human breast tumors supporting the concern that parabens cause breast cancer in women, testicular cancer in men, and harm the endocrine and reproductive systems.
Petrochemicals are found on a multitude of cosmetic labels as paraffin, mineral oil, and petroleum. Think Vaseline! And motor oil! They seal the skin like Saran Wrap, clog pores, and inhibit the skin’s ability to breathe and rejuvenate cells. Petrochemicals cause pimples, wrinkles, and dry skin. And probably cancer. Petroleum by-products contain 1,4-Dioxane, a probable carcinogen.
Phthalates, chemicals that soften plastics, have been banned in cosmetics in the European Union and in children’s toys in California but are still present in many fragrances, deodorants, lotions, hair products, and nail polish. They act as hormone disruptors causing reproductive defects and sexual dysfunction in men, low libido in women, developmental problems in children, insulin resistance, diabetes, liver, kidney, and lung damage, and cancer.
6. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
(PEG) is a dangerous little “penetration enhancer” found in eye creams, facemasks, lip balms, cleansers, and concealers. It is often contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane and ethylene oxide, both known carcinogens.
7. Preservatives (BHA/BHT)
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives to prolong freshness in a wide variety of personal care and cosmetic products. These chemicals are linked to several health concerns including endocrine disruption and organ-system toxicity. BHA has been banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union and can increase sensitivity to damaging solar rays. Present in lipstick and gloss, eye shadow and liner, mascara, blush, nail polish, sunscreen, shaving products, diaper cream, and hair dye.
Similar to asbestos in composition, Talc has been linked to ovarian cancer and respiratory problems. It’s found in baby powder, eye shadow, blush, foundation, and deodorant. Look for safe cornstarch-based cosmetic products instead.
Now that you have a foundation for making wise and conscious choices about the products you put on your body, go forth and glow!