8 Dangerous Toxins in Your Health and Beauty Products

8 Dangerous Toxins in Your Health and Beauty Products

De-toxify your bathroom!

Most of us have cabinets full of personal care products. We lather shampoo in our hair, rub lotions into our skin, and layer ourselves with cosmetics, but what’s really in all those creams, pastes, and soaps? The fact is that many of these products contain dangerous chemicals that can easily be absorbed through our skin, so next time you’re in the store, take the time to read the label on the products you buy and keep an eye out for these eight toxic additives.

1. Parabens

This family of compounds is used as a preservative in everything from shampoos to lotions to toothpastes. Parabens are estrogenic, meaning they mimic the behavior of hormones in the body, and have been linked to breast cancer. Look on the label for the terms methyl-, butyl-, ethyl-, and propylparaben

Use instead: Hair and body shampoo

2. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is an organic compound known to cause cancer and serious respiratory problems. It can be found in a number of beauty products, including nail hardener and nail polish and was also recently found to be the main ingredient in keratin hair straightening treatments (even ones that claimed to be formaldehyde-free!).

3. Triclosan
Organic Hand Purifier

Organic Hand Purifier

Like some of the other chemicals on this list, triclosan is an endocrine disrupter, which means that it can mess with hormones in the body, and there is also concern that it reacts with the chlorine in treated tap water to produce toxic dioxins. Triclosan is an antibacterial used in soaps, deodorant, toothpastes, and mouth washes despite that fact that studies have shown it is no more effect than regular soaps.

Use instead: Organic hand purifier

4. Phthalates

The same family of chemicals that are used to soften plastics are also added to beauty products like nail polish, hair spray, and perfumes to make them more durable and as part of fragrances. Phthalates are also an endocrine disrupter, and have been linked to problems with the liver, kidneys, and reproductive organs in animals. Because products do not need to specify the components of any added scents (they will just be included on the label as “fragrance”), it can be difficult to tell if products contain phthalates.

Use instead: Nourishing hand and body lotion

5. Lead
Organic Shea Butter Lip Balm

Organic Shea Butter Lip Balm

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that causes a range of serious health problems including brain and blood disorders, and it is especially dangerous for children and pregnant women because it can interfere with development. While lead is strictly regulated by the FDA, recent studies have found higher than expected levels in lipsticks.

Use instead: Organic Shea butter lip balm

6. Nitrosamines

Nitrosamines are carcinogenic compounds that are formed when nitrates react with amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). They are not intentionally added to cosmetic and health products, but are instead the byproduct of other chemicals like preservatives and wetting agents. It is difficult to identify products that may contain nitrosamines since they will not be listed on the label and the FDA does not regulate the use of the chemicals that produce them.

Use instead: Organic hand soap

7. Toluene

Anyone who’s ever opened a bottle of nail polish is familiar with toluene, a petrochemical used to make nail polish smooth and even: it’s the source of the sweet smell coming from your favorite nail color. Toluene is a volatile organic compound (VOC), meaning it evaporates easily, and inhaling these fumes can lead to headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Look for nail polishes that specify they are free of toluene as well as formaldehyde and phthalates.

8. Fragrances
Aromatherapy Room and Body Spray Misters

Aromatherapy Room and Body Spray Misters

The last item on our list might seem a little vague – what’s in a fragrance, anyway? But that uncertainty is exactly the problem. Because scents are considered trade secrets, the FDA lumps together thousands of chemicals as fragrances and does not require these be listed individually on the label. This means that, when it comes to synthetic fragrances, you never know what you’re getting.

Use instead: Aromatherapy room and body spray

No matter what you’re looking for, always be sure to read labels carefully. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the long lists of chemicals on the back of your favorite products, but taking the time to know what you’re buying is an important part of keeping you and your family safe.


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