It’s a scary fact: most personal care products are full of toxins. Read on to learn how to protect your family.
POV: You’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle. But then you realize toxins are coming at you from every angle. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But try not to!
You can’t make every single aspect of your life safe and clean at once.
Instead, take it one small step at a time. Go slow if you need to, and make these changes permanent for the safety of yourself and your family.
Let’s start with the importance of reading labels and why these ingredients matter.
I’m a big label reader, but I wasn’t raised that way.
I didn’t think twice about processed ravioli from a can. Or the Bath and Body Works scents I sprayed all over myself before heading out with my girlfriends to eat a bunch of dyed candy and GMO popcorn at the movie theatre.
Maybe you haven’t really thought about it either until lately?
I really started to understand why and how ingredients mattered when my family was getting sick — like all the time!
When I started making clean, organic elderberry syrup and giving it to my family every single morning, our lives were transformed. I already knew a lot about living a holistic lifestyle, but WOW. I could see upfront and center exactly how clean ingredients impact us all.
So now I’m on a mission to make our lives as toxin-free as possible. I’m here to share advice on toxins lurking in our everyday personal care products and where you can find healthier options.
If you haven’t started the practice of reading food food labels, I really encourage you to jump on that ASAP. You can check out my blog here on why and how to read those tricky food labels, so you can make healthier choices for your entire family.
Today, we’re going to focus on the daily products that come into contact with our skin and senses day in and day out. Here we go!
What Are Toxins?
To put it simply, toxins are harmful substances or chemicals that cause damage to our bodies.
They can enter your body in different ways, like inhaling, ingesting, or absorbing them through your skin. I know this feels scary. But it’s helpful to know since they can affect different systems or organs in the body that can eventually lead to illness, injury, or even death.
Insane, I know.
What’s even more crazy… the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate personal care products in the same way they do food and drinks. Erika Wilhelm, a spokesperson for the nonprofit organization called Campaign for Safer Cosmetics said this:
“It is perfectly legal for companies to use chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption, infertility and respiratory harm in the beauty and personal care products we use every day. That’s because the federal law that governs this $84 billion domestic cosmetics industry is only 2.5 pages long and has not been updated in 81 years.”
No more waiting around for the FDA, it’s time to take your future into your own hands. Here’s what you need to know about the toxins hiding in your products.
Top Harmful Chemicals to Know
These chemicals I've listed are toxic for you and your family. They appear in hair dyes, nail products, lotions, shampoo & conditioner, makeup and even feminine hygiene products.
Identifying and getting rid of products with these toxins is one step closer to a healthier life.
1. Butylated Hydroxyanisole & Hydroxytoluene (BHA & BHT)
BHA & BHT are used as a preservative in personal care products that contain oils or fats. Think lipsticks, eyeliners, smooth eyeshadows and lotions.
It’s scary to think that these toxins are so close to our mouths, eyes, and skin!
Research to back it up: Researchers have linked these preservatives to stomach cancer, damage to kidney cells, and interfering with the development of reproductive systems in both men and women.
2. Coal Tar
Coal tar is a thick liquid produced by burning coal. M-phenylenediamine, o-phenylenediamine and p-phenylenediamine are compounds that were originally derived from coal tar and are now often produced synthetically. They’re often found in hair dyes.
Coal tar dyes can cause allergic reactions, skin issues and even contribute to hair loss. So think about what hair dye you’re buying at the store. Be sure to ask what your hairstylist uses so you can avoid these toxins from entering your body.
Research to back it up: Research has shown some coal tar dyes increase the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia and bladder cancer.
3. Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA is a group of chemicals often used in products that are creamy or foamy, like shampoos and shaving creams. Other versions include monoethanolamine (MEA) and triethanolamine (TEA).
Yes, toxins are used to produce that favored sudsy effect that helps you feel clean!
Research to back it up: Because of the reaction with these compounds and other preservatives, DEA is prohibited in cosmetics in Europe and Canada.
Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling chemical that’s used to lengthen the shelf-life of products like cosmetics, hair straighteners and nail polishes. Other preservatives used can actually release formaldehyde gases, like DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, glyoxal, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate and quaternium-15.
Not something I want to breathe in at all!
Research to back it up: Exposure to formaldehyde fumes can irritate your eyes, nose and throat, and over long periods of time, it’s been linked to nose and throat cancer.
5. Fragrance or Parfum
Fragrance is an umbrella term used to hide a number of chemical ingredients from the label. Even “unscented” products can have these harmful toxins because they can be used as dyes, solvents or stabilizers.
So definitely pay attention to the ingredient list and see if one of these has snuck its way in there.
Research to back it up: There are more than 3,600 chemicals used in fragrance mixtures around the world. Studies on some of the chemicals in fragrances, such as diethyl phthalate and musk ketones, have also shown they can interrupt hormone function which is linked to ovarian issues and sperm damage.
This is a group of preservatives used in water-based products. Parabens are found in shampoos and conditioners, face washes, toothpaste and other cosmetic products.
It’s frustrating because these are our everyday products.
Research to back it up: Paraben exposure has been linked to increased incidences of breast cancer in females, as well as the disruption of reproductive systems in males.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals found in vinyl plastics. They’re also used in eyelash glues, makeup, and other personal care products.
Most people don’t even realize plastic is in most personal care products, crazy!
Research to back it up: After these chemicals were shown to disrupt hormone function and impair fertility, many companies have phased out the direct use of phthalates. Two types — dibutyl phthalate, DBP, and diethylhexyl phthalate, DEHP — are still being used. They’re just as bad, so don’t be fooled.
9. Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)
PEGs are chemicals used to thicken hand soaps, makeup concealers, foundations, and face creams.
I recently discovered my favorite lotion is loaded with PEGs, yuck!
Research to back it up: PEGs are manufactured in a way that contaminates it with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which have been linked to cancer.
10. Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Often called “forever chemicals”, PFAS are a mix of linked carbon and fluorine atoms. They’re called “forever chemicals” because they never degrade or go away.
Can you imagine what they do on your skin?!
PFAS are added to anti-aging products and cosmetics (blush, eye shadow, bronzer, mascara, eyeliner, powder, foundation, nail polish) to give off that shiny look and smoother feel.
Some of the most common PFAS include polytetrafluoroethylene (known as Teflon), perfluorooctyl triethoxysilane, perfluorononyl dimethicone, perfluorodecalin and perfluorohexane.
Research to back it up: Exposure to certain levels of PFAS may lead to reproductive effects such as decreased fertility or increased high blood pressure in pregnant women.
>> Now that you know which ingredients to avoid, you’re probably curious about how to find personal care products without them.
Here are some tools to find products you can feel confident about buying and using in your household.
Check them out. They make healthy, toxin-free living a breeze!
Online Tools to Help You Choose Wisely
These are the top two online tools you can use to make finding clean products easier. They even have convenient apps so you can check products while shopping. Heck yes!
1. EWGs Skin Deep Database
The EWG's Skin Deep database provides information about the safety and potential toxicity of various personal care products such as cosmetics, skincare items, and toiletries.
This database has assessments for over 74,000 products. It’s awesome! They rate products based on the ingredient list and scientific research to give you a better understanding of the risks associated with each ingredient.
This is my go-to and absolute favorite app to use to identify toxins in products!
2. The Think Dirty App
The Think Dirty app is gaining popularity lately!
It focuses exclusively on chemical content. I love that you can scan the product barcode and Think Dirty gives you easy-to-understand info on that product and includes a list of cleaner options. Makes it super easy to find alternatives without all the toxins!
Knowledge Is Power!
When you have the tools to educate yourself about ingredients and products, you have the power to make a healthier life for yourself and your family!
To give your family the daily boost it needs to protect them from harmful toxins and nasty germs, I recommend trying my Organic Elderberry Syrup. They’re perfect for keeping your family healthy year-round. Learn more about how you can build your family’s immune system with one simple dose here.
💜 I’m rooting for you and your family, and I’m here to support you on the journey to becoming healthier and happier!
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