The Hidden Health Dangers in Your Toiletries
Have you ever thought about the nasties that are lurking in your toiletries? If not, you might be surprised to know that some of them are linked to health problems. With the rise of the “clean beauty” bandwagon, more of us than ever are swapping chemical laden toiletries for more natural alternatives that won’t harm our health. From general skin irritation to hormone disruption and even serious health conditions, there is a lot of cause for concern with some chemicals. Here’s why your beauty products might be a lot more sinister than you think and which nasties you’ll want to avoid.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a common ingredient in a lot of personal products, especially ones that have a foaming action. It’s also a major irritant, not just for the skin but also for the lungs. That’s not all though: it can react with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, which are potentially cancerous, and can also cause problems for the kidneys and lungs. Swapping to toiletries that are free from SLS.
A lot of toiletries now promote themselves as being “parabens free” and there’s good reason why you might want to switch to these products. Parabens are known to be able to mimic estrogen in the body and there are strong fears that this can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Parabens can be absorbed via your skin and have even shown up in the biopsy results of women with breast cancer. They may also affect fertility and affect unborn babies. You’ll find them in a wide range of toiletries, from shampoos to deodorants and makeup products.
Another nasty that can often be found in makeup is MIT. It’s intended to stop bacteria building up in beauty products but it can cause allergic reactions and has been linked to health problems in unborn babies. Water based toiletries will often contain MIT, including shampoo, conditioner, body wash and skin care products.
Phthalates can be found in hairsprays, nail polish and various other toiletries. They’re endocrine disruptors, which means they can disrupt your hormones. It’s believed that they can increase the risk of breast cancer and for teenage girls, they may bring on early puberty. It’s not always easy to tell if a product contains phthalates as they’re sometimes bundled in with “fragrances”.
Triclosan is another endocrine disruptor. Thyroid and reproductive hormones can be affected by triclosan and it’s thought to be a factor in creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. Deodorants, toothpaste and antibacterial soaps are just a few of the products you may find triclosan in.
Synthetic and artificial colors
On the surface, synthetic colors may seem fairly harmless but they’re linked to skin irritation, ADHD in children and even cancer. It’s been banned in the European Union because of the cancer risk. Scary stuff, right?
Often used as a moisturizing agent, propylene glycol is a known irritant and can also move through the skin. It can encourage hives and dermatitis to develop, especially in people who are sensitive to this. There doesn’t need to be a huge amount of propylene glycol for this to happen – even just 2 per cent can be enough to cause problems. Lots of products can contain this nasty. Moisturizers are the obvious one but it’s often found in make up, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray and sunscreen too.
DEA, MEA and TEA
The trio of ammonia compounds known as diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA), and triethanolamine (TEA) are used as foaming agents and emulsifiers, especially in makeup, shampoo, hair dye and sunscreen. Research has shown a connection between them and skin irritation, inflammation, toxicity and cancer.
Some of the heavy metals that may be used in products to add color, whiten, lighten and block sweat include lead, aluminium, zinc, chromium, iron and arsenic. They’re thought to cause hormone disruption, especially because they can build up in the body and aren’t flushed out that quickly. If levels get high enough, it can raise your risk of developing allergic reactions, immune issues, problems affecting the reproductive system and cancer. Some of the products that can contain them include whitening toothpaste, eyeliner, foundation, eye shadow, blush, concealer, nail polish, moisturizer, sunscreen and eye drops.
You’ll often find petroleum jelly in products for emollient and lubricant purposes. Research has linked this to impurities that can cause cancer. At the very least, there’s a reasonable chance that skin irritation and acne can occur.
At Starting Point Acupuncture, we provide individualized plans to help you achieve optimal wellness. Give our office a call today, (425) 686-4498 to schedule a consultation.
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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc
- Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
- Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
- Master’s Degree in Chemistry
Northern Arizona University
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