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5 Pounds of Toxins Each Year

5 Pounds of Toxins Each Year

I read recently that the average American woman absorbs five pounds of toxic chemicals each and every year from her makeup and personal care products. Every time you wash your hair, brush your teeth, rub on moisturizer, use a deodorant or spritz on a fragrance, you’re adding to your toxic load.

Did you think the FDA was protecting you? Not so much. However, there are some steps you can take to cut down or eliminate these sources of toxins.

First, though, you need to know what they are! Here’s a partial list:

  1. Phthalates / DBP. Kids’ toys containing phthalates have been in the news in the past few years, but a lot of cosmetic products include them as well. Often in cosmetic or personal care products you’ll find the ingredient DBP, which stands for dibutyl phthalate. Phthalates cause cancer and interfere with your ability to reproduce.
  2. Petroleum distillates are carcinogenic. Propylene glycol is derived from petroleum, is readily absorbed through the skin, and is so toxic that workers are required to wear protective gear when handling it. It’s used in industry to make things like hydraulic brake fluid and antifreeze. It’s found in very high concentrations in stick deodorants.
  3. Parabens are synthetic chemical preservatives. They might show up as methyl paraben, propyl paraben, ethyl paraben, butyl paraben or PHB Esters.
  4. Mercury and other toxic metals.
  5. Formaldehyde. Even if formaldehyde is not listed on the ingredients label, it might be released by imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin or Hexamethylenetetramine.
  6. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) destroy cell membranes. It’s derived from coconut, so it’s frequently labeled as a “natural” product. However, after being mixed with other chemical cocktails, it damages your immune system, causes eye damage, and collects in the heart, lungs, brain and liver.
  7. Triethanolamine (TEA) is a synthetic chemical frequently contaminated with nitrosamines.
  8. Coal tar derivatives are found in dyes and colors.
  9. Triclosan is found in almost all toothpastes and hand sanitizers, and is readily absorbed through the soft tissues of the mouth and skin. It disrupts thyroid activity, drops testosterone levels and increases the risk of cancer.

The FDA has admitted it does not protect the public health from toxic chemicals found in cosmetic products.

You Do Have Options for Toxin-Free Products

The Environmental Working Group maintains an extensive database to help you eliminate the damaging chemicals from your personal care and cosmetic products.

It’s divided into logical sections including hair, skin, nails, makeup, etc. You can search for products you’re currently using and rates them as low, moderate or high hazards.

I searched out the shampoo and conditioner I’ve been using for several years, and found both have a moderate risk level. While not containing carcinogens, their ingredients are linked to

  • development and reproductive damage
  • allergies
  • immune system disruption
  • neurotoxicity
  • endocrine disruption
  • organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
  • contamination concerns
  • biochemical or cellular level (DNA) changes

Fortunately, the EWS also provides lists of products with zero toxicity, along with links for purchasing online. Their disclaimer reads,

“Environmental Working Group is not associated with the manufacturer or distributor of this product and cannot guarantee the safety or quality of the product, the product formulation nor the service of the store owner.”

Mineral Makeup

Several years ago I switched from my liquid makeup to a mineral makeup, and I’ve been very happy with the results. It looks good, applies easily, is reasonably priced, and is much easier to travel with!

If you decide to switch to mineral makeup, make sure you avoid anything with talc or bismuth oxychloride, in addition to the baddies listed above. I use products from Everyday Minerals and Mineral Silk.

If you have found a good, toxin-free cosmetic or personal care product, please share your information here! Just click the comment link above (if you’re reading this article on the website).

Photo by dr_XeNo on flickr

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