In the past few years, awareness of what is in our personal care products has exploded! The market is flooded with “organic”, “natural”, and “pure” products, as well as the “regulars” but many of us are becoming very aware that most of these products also include toxic ingredients as well. Did you know that Europe bans around 1400 toxic chemicals from their personal care products, and the U.S. bans around 10? Manufacturers must clean up their products for European distribution but leave the toxic chemicals in for the U.S., because no one is stopping them. The FDA has very little oversight.
Our largest organ is our skin. What we eat gets de-toxified by our bodies, but when chemicals are put on the skin, they reach the bloodstream very quickly. For comparison, think of a nicotine patch, estrogen patch or motion sickness patch. The average adult has 485 chemicals in their blood! The average woman is exposed to approximately 250 + chemicals each morning, as she dutifully cleanses, moisturizes, makes herself up, and sprays fragrance on her skin. Disease in this country is up way beyond genetic incidence! Environmental toxins are being blamed, and they are everywhere in our environment. We can’t control genetics, we can’t control the air, but we can certainly control what we eat and drink, and what gets to our blood stream directly by what we put on our skin.
Most body and bath products are used in the shower or at our sinks, and go down the drain. In America, we annually pour 365 million gallons of shampoo ALONE down the drain. Our wastewater treatment plants are designed to remove bacteria, not the toxic chemicals in personal care products.
Here are a few of the most dangerous chemicals/toxins to beware of. Shampoo can contain cocamide DEA, which is associated with carcinogenic nitrosamines, and sodium lauryl sulfate (w hich helps get that sudsy affect), a known mutagen. Conditioner can contain methylisothiaolinone, an ingredient that is mutagenic and is presently being evaluated as cancer causing. Petroleum is basically petroleum and is commonly found in moisturizers. It forms an oily layer on the skin, which blocks moisture evaporation. Just as aluminum in antiperspirants dangerously blocks and traps sweat, petroleum has adverse effects on skin: however, since it’s so cheap for makeup manufacturers, it’s even found in baby creams and wax depilatories. There are well over 200 ingredients under the umbrella term “fragrance”, and manufacturers are not required to disclose any of the actual ingredients in their formulas.
In the long term, you are saving a fortune when you buy truly natural and organic products in comparison to the health care costs of future treatment, including surgery from using toxins on your face and body, allergies, asthma, etc. One way to educate yourself is to go to the independent website started by the Environmental Working Group many years ago – cosmeticsdatabase.com – and look up the products that you currently use, and find out their safety/hazard level on a 0-10 scale, 0 being the best. Also click on their “Guide to Healthy Cleaning” and look up your cleaning products – these are rated on a scale of A to F.
My family and I have been on a 4 year journey to de-tox our household, and even though there is still much to be done, the general public is waking up and becoming aware as to what is in the typical product on the typical store shelf. Educate yourself and you will begin to find some wonderful, toxic-free alternatives to the toxic products that many of us have been using through the years.