No we are not talking about Lee Marvin (for once!). Over the years, modern consumers have become all but obsessed with what we, well, consume. From our vegetables to our water bottles, our food and drink are guaranteed hormone-free, cage-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, BPA-free, and most certainly, without MSG.
However, it’s not enough to assume that just because we are careful about what we put into our mouths that were are truly safe from dangerous chemicals. Those products we put on and around our bodies are just as important as what we put into them.
More than 12 percent of the ingredients used in personal care products contain potentially toxic chemicals, such as carcinogens, pesticides and those that can negatively affect ones endocrine and reproductive systems, according to the Environmental Working Group.
So before you slather on the sunscreen or powder your nose, take a look at the back of the bottle to make sure none of the following chemicals are in your favorite grooming products:
- BHA and BHT: Often used in lipsticks, moisturizers and sometimes as a food preservative, these chemicals have been shown to cause cancer and affect male and female reproduction.
- Coal Tar Dyes: Used in certain types of hair dyes, this dirty chemical is a human carcinogen and has the potential to cause cancer.
- DEA: Diethanolamine (DEA) is used to make certain products creamy or sudsy (think hair conditioner and shampoo). Outside of the bathtub, DEA is used in oil refineries to remove hydrogen sulfide from process gas emissions – not exactly what you want in your shower!
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): If you ever wonder how nail polish stays so liquid inside the bottle, DBP is to blame. It’s also to blame for developmental defects, interferes with hormone function and is detrimental to the reproductive process and fertility.
- Preservatives: Specifically those that release formaldehyde are found in many different cosmetics, vinyl flooring and toilet bowl cleaners alike. When inhaled (ever smell that strong scent of nail polish?), formaldehyde can increase cancer risks.
- Parabens: This popular cosmetic preservative mimics estrogen, potentially causing breast cancer and interfering with male reproduction. It is also known to increase skin aging (something most beauty products claim to reverse) and DNA damage.
- Fragrances: You may as well add “fragrance-free” to the above anti-chemical-du-jour list. Certain fragrances are known to trigger allergies and asthma attacks.
- PEG compounds: Anything that stays in the environment long after it’s been washed down the shower drain can’t be a good thing. Used in creams and lotions, PEG compounds are also used in certain laxatives.
- Petroleum: Used to make your hair shine and your lips glisten, contaminated petroleum-based products have been associated with cancer, as well as skin irritation and allergies.
- Siloxanes: Known for its smoothing abilities, certain silicone formulas may impair human fertility, can cause uterine tumors and influence neurotransmitters.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Combined with other chemicals, this substance, which makes your bubble bath foam, can harm the nervous system and interfere with human development.
- Triclosan: Found in toothpaste, antibacterial products and antiperspirants, this chemical can attract bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
So while it’s a bummer that many things hanging around your household can have negative repercussions on your health, there are loads of chemical-free options (and even some you can make on your own) that won’t make you or your environment sick!