By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
When we work to optimize our health, we spend a lot of time focusing on what to put in our bodies. However, what we put on our bodies deserves our attention, too. From shampoo to hairspray, everything we put on our bodies has a profound effect on our health.
Studies show that the average woman uses 12 personal care products a day containing 168 different chemicals! Our largest organ, our skin, absorbs up to 60% of the whatever we put on it. Countless research studies report a link between chemical exposure and increases in developmental diseases, hormone imbalance, and other health complications.
The truth is, personal care products contain all sorts of chemical ingredients that lack safety data. These chemicals are linked to unbalanced hormone levels, allergies, male genital birth defects, decreased sperm count, severe organ damage, and even cancer.
Keep reading to learn which ingredients to avoid, and why!
Chemicals to Avoid
Fragrance By using the term fragrance, a company is able to hide dozens (or even hundreds) of chemicals in their product by claiming it their “secret formula.” There is no real way of knowing what exactly you are putting on your body when you buy something that contains ‘fragrance’ on the label. Fragrances often contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens worldwide.
Phthalates Often found in nail polish, perfume, lotion, deodorant, and hairspray. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors and are linked to breast cancer and reproductive birth defects. Unfortunately, regulations allow phthalates to be grouped under the term ‘fragrance’ so you won’t always be able to know just by reading the label whether a product contains phthalates. Though as we’ve learned, if a label says ‘fragrance’ you’ll probably want to avoid that product anyways!
Parabens contain estrogen-mimicking compounds that are associated with breast cancer, tumors, reproductive and developmental disorders. They’re present in all types of beauty products, and are even in some foods and drugs!
Sulfates Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)… sulfates go by many names. Over 16,000 studies have warned against the toxicity of sulfates. Neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and cancer- sulfates are one chemical you really want to avoid!
Aluminium In many deodorants, aluminum compounds such as Aluminium chloride hexahydrate have been linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s. Aluminium is known to have a genotoxic profile, which can cause DNA alterations and epigenetic effects.
Toluene is used to dissolve paint, yet somehow made its way into our bathroom cabinets. Watch out for toluene in nail polish and hair coloring/bleaching products, as it has serious effects on your respiratory system and has been linked to immune system toxicity and lymphoma. Pregnant women should avoid these products at all costs, as toluene can impair fetal development.
Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen used for preserving dead bodies. Perplexingly, it is also used in beauty products. Formaldehyde is a neurotoxin, skin irritant, and can cause developmental complications. Avoid formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers (Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15).
A simple way to choose healthier products is to choose ones that are organic, fragrance-free, and stick to ingredients you can pronounce! Always check the ingredients for the following types of products:
Stay tuned for our next article on natural beauty and learn some healthy alternatives to keep yourself glowing, inside and out!