Choosing Body, Skin, and Hair Products
Environmental Working Group has a great database to help you find safe personal care products free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
AVOID THE DIRTY DOZEN, the most harmful ingredients often found in your body and hair products:
- Aluminum: commonly used in antiperspirants. Breathing and ingesting aluminum might aggravate kidney and lung disorders. Aluminum deposits have been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s victims.
- Chlorine: found in tap water, pools, laundry products, cleaning agents, food processing, and sewage systems. Chlorine contributes to asthma, anemia, bronchitis, diabetes, irritation of the eye, mouth, nose, and lungs, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other problems.
- Color pigments: commonly found in cosmetic and hair coloring products, they can irritate sensitive skin and reduce oxygenation of the skin. Almost all of them are carcinogenic.
- DEA, MEA,TEA: Used in cosmetic formulations as emulsifiersdiethanolamine, monoethanolamine, and triethanolamine are cancer-causing, hormone-
- Fragrance: most are toxic and may be carcinogenic. Most fragrances are synthetic. Symptoms reported to the FDA include headaches, rashes, skin discoloration, coughing, and vomiting. Exposure may affect the central nervous system.
- Glycerin: commonly found in cosmetics, toothpastes and soaps, glycerin draws moisture from inside the skin, making it temporarily feel better but drying it out.
- Isopropyl Alcohol: commonly found in rubbing alcohol, this is a poisonous substance which changes the natural qualities of other substances. It is derived from petroleum and is also used in anti-freeze and as a solvent in shellac. Ingestion or inhalation of large quantities may cause headaches, vomiting, and coma. A fatal dose is about one fluid ounce.
- Mineral Oil: commonly found in baby lotions, cold creams, ointments and cosmetics. Mineral oil is derived from petroleum. It remains on top of the skin disrupting the natural immune barrier. It also prevents the skin from releasing toxins which may cause acne and other disorders. This may cause premature aging.
- Phthalates: commonly found in cosmetic and body-care products as a fragrance, especially nail polish. The most common use of phthalates is as an ingredient in “fragrance” mixtures added to body care products. They can interfere with hormones in the body, posing potential risks to the reproductive and thyroid systems.
- PropyleneGlycol (PG): This is the active ingredient in antifreeze and a major ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluid that is widely used in cosmetics. PG is used by industry to break down cellular structure and protein. This product is a skin irritant and may damage the nervous system, brain, liver, and kidneys.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): commonly found in detergents, degreasers, cosmetics, shampoos and toothpaste. SLS may be the most harmful ingredient in personal care products. SLS and SLES can dry and irritate the skin and cause malformation in children’s eyes. Research indicates that they damage the immune system of the skin and may enter the bloodstream from a single shampoo, staying in the body for up to five days where residual levels may remain in the heart, liver, lungs and brain.
- Sodium Fluoride: commonly used in toothpaste and dental cleanings, it is a form of rat poison and very damaging to the thyroid.