Each day people apply an array of products to their skin, hair, and nails such as lotion, deodorant, nail color, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, and the list goes on. People have different reasons for using each concoction, but, in general, they perform the ritual of using products for cleaning, beautifying, or in order to prevent aging (and oftentimes a combination of all three).
It’s no surprise that people want to have good hygiene and will go to great lengths to keep their skin looking healthy throughout their life. Applying makeup to enhance one’s natural beauty has been a ritual of women in all cultures and throughout all of history. There is nothing inherently wrong in practicing good hygiene, skin care routines, and beauty rituals unless the products used are harboring a dangerous secret.
The types of products used for skin care, hygiene, and beauty have undergone a makeover since the beginning of the industrial age. Pre-industry makeup and skin care products were made of natural materials such as olive oil and castor oil for skin balms, essential oils for fragrance, and different plant materials were used to make stains for the lips or cheeks.
In contrast, modern beauty products are mass-produced, so short cuts and cheaper materials are being used to manufacture them and to preserve them. The products found in the hygiene, skincare, and makeup industries of the modern age all make claims of how they will aid and enhance the body, but what the advertisements omit is that many of these products are made of toxic chemicals. Not all of the ingredients in these products are harmful, but many of the synthetic chemicals used have been linked to diseases such as breast cancer.
Given the fact that there are so many products on the market today and there are very few regulatory standards that cosmetic manufacturing companies must adhere to, it is wise to learn the names of different chemicals that have been tested and linked to breast cancer.
This can be a daunting task because these products contain so many synthetic chemicals and sometimes only small amounts of the natural substances advertised on the label. Learning about some of the common synthetic chemicals in personal care products is a good place to start in order to keep you from slathering on cancer causing products.
Here is a list and short description of seven worrisome ingredients that you should always look out for on labels.
1. Phthalates are found in nail polish and synthetic fragrances. They are also found in many products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient but do not disclose the ingredients in the fragrance used. This is a loophole for manufacturers to avoid listing this harmful ingredient on the labels of their products.
Phthalates have been found to cause birth defects and reproductive issues in animals tested and they are endocrine disrupters which are considered a risk factor for breast cancer. Be careful when purchasing the nail polish brands OPI, Milani, and Nail Tech because they all contain Dibutyl Phthalate, which should be looked for on all labels before purchase.
2. 1,4-dioxane is found in shampoos, body wash, and children’s bath products and is considered to be an anticipated carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. Carcinogens create free radicals in the body and are linked to cancer. 1,4-dioxane is a petroleum-derived substance and is used as a sudsing agent in these aforementioned products.
3. Ethylene Oxide is found in fragrances and shampoos and has been identified as a mammary carcinogen in animal tests. It is classified as a human carcinogen. Attitude brand shampoos and kid’s body washes contain fragrance as an ingredient, which the Environmental Working Group’s Skindeep website sites as having both 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide.
4. Placental Extract is derived from human or animal placentas and is often used in shampoos, conditioners, and grooming aids which are generally made and marketed to women of color. Progesterone has been identified in placental extract. Because progesterone is a hormonal contaminant it may be linked to breast cancer and is currently identified by the National Toxicology Program as a reasonably anticipated carcinogen.
5. Lead is found in over 650 cosmetic products, which include lipsticks, foundation, nail color, sunscreen, as well as whitening toothpaste. Lead is considered a neurotoxin and its use has been linked to developmental problems as well as problems with conceiving and carrying children. Beware of lipsticks made by Maybelline, L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Nars because they are all known to contain lead. This has been proven and stated by the FDA, although the FDA has said they do not think the levels are high enough to cause problems in the body. Yet, this information is contradictory to the fact that lead builds in the body over prolonged use. Therefore, it is wisest to avoid these products and opt for lead-free lipsticks.
6. Aluminum is most commonly found in antiperspirant, though aluminum powder is also found in many cosmetics. It is a metal that mimics estrogen and clogs sweat pores and prohibits detoxing through the sweat pores. It may also cause damage to DNA. Studies have found concentrated amounts of aluminum in the breast tissue where breast cancer has been diagnosed in some patients.
When choosing underarm sweat protection, it is best to choose deodorants rather than antiperspirants because of the fact that aluminum is dangerous and clogs pores. Most antiperspirants contain aluminum and even “natural” brands, such as Tom’s of Maine, contain aluminum.Revlon, Maybelline, and L’Oreal all make eye shadow that contains aluminum. Sally Hansen and Wet n’ Wild brands of nail polish typically contain aluminum, as well as Cover Girl mascara.
7. Parabens are found on the labels of many common products. Typically they are found in lotions, cosmetics, and antiperspirants. Parabens mimic estrogen and may be linked to breast cancer. These chemicals are added to products even though there has never been a study that determines their safety, yet there are studies that show that they are dangerous. When looking for parabens on labels, it’s smart to avoid any products that have words containing the prefixes or suffixes “ethyl,” “butyl,” “methyl,” or “propyl” because they are indicators of parabens in the product.
Sunscreen labels should be scrutinized before determining that they are safe for applying on the skin. Many sunscreens contain some of the chemicals mentioned above as well as titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is a known carcinogen, but it is more dangerous when inhaled. This should be taken into consideration when purchasing aerosol sunscreen sprays because the titanium dioxide becomes airborne and may be inhaled by those using it or near it.
The industrialization of cosmetics and skin care products has made it easier to purchase these items and not have to rely on making them, but they also pose a great amount of risk on the user if one does not choose the products wisely. Fortunately, there are options that are not toxic to the body and these are available online and in some stores.
Here are some safer choices in cosmetics,according to the Environmental Working Group’s website Skindeep: Coastal Classic Creations, which has the highest rating of safety with a score of 0-1 on all of their products, Zosimos Botanicals, with a rating of 0-2 on all of their products, and Miessence, which has rating between 0-2 also. These are just a few of the companies that are making the choice to have cleaner cosmetics and skin care products.
A great resource to get all the information on toxic or nontoxic ingredients is the Environmental Working Group’s database Skindeep, which allows you to search through products to see which toxins may be lurking in your favorite products.
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.
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