What's The Link? Your Health and your Personal care products.
Updated: Jul 29
We are exposed to so many products everywhere that are toxic to us, which we try to avoid and can avoid. Do you know there are personal products that we use daily that we are unaware of that contains toxic and carcinogenic ingredients? Living a healthier lifestyle is not that hard; you just need to steer clear of these few ingredients, and you will be on a healthy path.
Parabens are found in cosmetics and personal care products as a preservative, to give them longer shelf life. Methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparabens are the most common derivatives of parabens found in beauty and personal care products, such as your makeup, deodorants, shampoo, and conditioners, etc. They can become toxic once they are applied to the skin since they are very easily absorbed into the body.
The Non-profit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics the CSC says that parabens pose the most significant concern because they are known to disrupt hormone function. Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptor on cells, this causes an increase in cell division and growth of tumors. In 2004 a British study detected traces of five parabens in the breast tumors of 19 out of 20 women who were studied. The study states that phthalates did not prove a correlation between parabens and breast cancer. Although the research is critically significant because it detected the presence of intact parabens, which means that our bodies are not able to metabolize these chemicals. They are absorbed in the skin and can remain in breast tissue.
Since they are so widely used, continuous exposure to products that contain these chemicals could be overloading our bodies and contribute to a wide range of health issues. Issues of increased risk of breast cancer, reproductive toxicity, immunological, neurological, and skin irritation problems.
What are phthalates? They are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility and durability of plastic and vinyl products. Some are also used as dissolving agents for other materials. In the beauty and personal care industry, they can be found in hairsprays, nail polish, shampoos, body soaps, perfumes, colognes, and especially the plastic packaging they come in. Phthalates are listed as dibutylphthalate (DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP) or diethylphthalate (DEP). Sometimes products that contain "fragrance," may contain phthalates. "Fragrances" are usually protected recipes from the manufacturer. Products that do not list a phthalate as an ingredient may have it in the container and has leeched into the product itself.
Our exposure to Phthalates can vary, from ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. The National Research Council is recommending that phthalates be assessed as a potential risk. The committee has concluded that there are common adverse outcomes of this chemical, such as endocrine disruptor, asthma, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer.
Polyethylene Glycols or PEGs
Polyethylene Glycols have many uses in skincare and hair products, for thickening, softening and for enhancing the absorption of other ingredients. They can be found in shampoo, soap, hair straighteners, and the micro-beads that can be found in exfoliators among other products.
Research has found that PEGs may be contaminated with a known carcinogen, neurotoxic, respiratory and skin irritants such as propylene oxide, ethyl oxide, and 1,4-dioxane, during the manufacturing process. Long term exposure to these can cause serious health issues. Polyethylene beads are not biodegradable and are not able to be filtered in our sewage system. They can end up in our oceans and affect our marine life and in turn, affect us.
"Fragrance" is one of the leading allergens in the beauty and skin industry. Fragrance suppliers are not required by law to disclose the full ingredients, because they are considered manufacturer trade secret or a unique mixture of ingredients. These "fragrances" may contain hundreds of sensitizers, allergens, respiratory irritants, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic chemicals or environmental toxins as said by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC).
Mineral Oils and Petrolatum
These ingredients are derived from crude oil, petroleum and are very often used as moisturizing agents in products. The dilemma is that in the United States do not fully refine these ingredients, that is where the trouble begins. Not being thoroughly refined, means they may be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known carcinogens. They are listed as Mineral oils, Petrolatum, Liquid paraffin or Paraffin oil. There is an exception, which is White Petrolatum, a properly refined variation, and is safer to use.
What To Do?
We all love great smelling products and products that make our hair shiny and soft but we have to be more diligent in reading the labels. We need to avoid products that are packaged plastic with a "recycling code 3" and use glass packaging or paper packaging as much as possible. Avoid products that do not provide the full ingredients other than "fragrance" and choose products that are using pure essential oils to add scents, and or go fragrance-free.
Scheer, Roddy, and Doug Moss. "Dear EarthTalk: A Friend of Mine Recently Stopped Using Skin and Beauty Products with Parabens in them. What Are Parabens and Should We All Be Avoiding Them? -- Betsy Johnson, Port Chester, NY Dot_transdot_transdot_transdot_transdot_trans." Earth Talk, Earth Action Network, Inc., 23 Mar. 2015, p. n/a.