I’m not sure when it all started – five years ago we had a whole-house water filter installed and sometime last year we stopped eating processed foods. Then our daughter introduced us to Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products. We loved that it was all natural, smelled great and did a wonderful job cleaning – we were hooked. Recently we became label crazy, reading the ingredients of everything we eat. When the Jet Dry for our dishwasher ran out and needed to be replaced, we tried white vinegar in its place and discovered it was just as good a rinse aid – if not better.
So being chemical conscious, I decided to look into the ingredients of the body products we use on a daily basis and became pretty much horrified at the results. I never gave a thought to all the chemicals in soap, shampoo, lotion, and deodorant. It’s a good thing I hardly ever wear make-up because there are lots of harmful chemicals in that too. There’s also plenty in sunscreens – I knew the stuff was bad, but never knew the specifics.
The skin is the largest organ in the human body. The average person has 22 square feet of it. It covers us from head to toe (don’t forget the scalp is skin too) and protects us from harm, but products we use on it pose a danger. Sixty percent of the substances we apply are absorbed by the skin and go directly in to the bloodstream. This is scary!
Here is just a partial list of harmful chemicals you might find in your everyday soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste and deodorant. I am sickened to think about what’s in make-up and hair coloring!
This metal is found in deodorants and in some lotions. It blocks the pores from perspiring and has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
There is usually no listing for fragrance ingredients as it’s not mandatory by the government. This is frightening as manufacturers have carte blanche to add whatever chemicals they want.
They are a common chemical put in soaps to retard bacterial growth. Parabens are thought to mimic estrogen and can cause breast cancer and hormonal imbalance. It is the most widely used additive and is also in moisturizers, shampoos, and deodorants.
(Pronounced THAL-ates) is a plastic softener that is added to lotions to help them penetrate the skin. Pthalates are said to affect the reproduction of lab animals and is probably a carcinogen. Pthalates can cause birth defects among other things. It is also added to shampoo, deodorant, and cosmetics.
Actually a component in antifreeze and engine coolants, it is unsure whether or not propylene glycol is toxic. It is petroleum based and actually suffocates the skin.
Sulfates (such as sodium lauryl sulfate)
Sulfates are a surfactant used in soaps, skin care products, and shampoos. They produce lather but removes oils from the skin at the same time. Reports of them being a carcinogen are conflicting, but they are used in floor cleaners and car washes.
Triclosan is an anti-microbial, anti-fungal ingredient found in many soaps and body washes. It is thought to be a cancer causer, endocrine disruptor and hormone regulation changer. It’s also present in deodorants and some toothpaste.
During summer, sunscreens are an every day chemical applied to the skin when outdoors. Sunscreens are guilty of containing harmful toxins. Oxybenzone is the most widely used chemical in sunscreens. Oxybenzone may be linked to hormone disruption and cell changes in the skin that cause cancer. Another popular additive is retinyl palmitate which may be carcinogenic. It is only added to slow down wrinkle formation and has nothing to do with blocking the sun’s rays.
What to Do?
Look at your ingredients before buying. Shop for products that are natural, and without a petroleum base. Buy products with coconut, jojoba, olive, or essential oil instead of mineral oil. Castile soap, made from olive oil is an excellent substitution for liquid soap and there are plenty of bar soaps with natural ingredients if you look in the right place.
We found a shampoo with all natural ingredients that works well and is reasonable in price. We use a lotion made with shea butter and are in love with it. My husband claims it is the best lotion he’s ever used on his dry skin during the winter. Shea butter is made from the African shea tree and is actually edible. You have your choices out there!
How do you avoid contact with toxic chemicals in your skin care products? We’d love to hear from you!