Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Are Your Beauty and Personal Care Products Toxic?

Years ago, I discovered that the cosmetic and skin care products I was using contained parabens and that they were harmful to our health. I did some research and learned that there was a link between parabens and breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Fund reports that parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue. Also, I learned that they can interfere with our hormones and are toxic to our immune system.

I then started to read all of the ingredients that were in my beauty and personal care products and researched them. I discovered that there were many more chemicals in my products, in addition to parabens, that were harmful to our health. Other common chemical ingredients such as triethanolamine (TEA) and triclosan, which is an antibacterial ingredient and a preservative, are toxic. Even fragrances derived from chemicals, which are found in thousands of products, can be toxic.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of health risks involved with being exposed to the chemicals that are in cosmetic, skin care and personal care products. I realized that continual exposure to them was just as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

Because these products are not regulated by the FDA, companies are allowed to put harmful chemicals in their products. Also, companies are not required to list harmful chemical byproducts or contaminants in their ingredients.

1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate processing, among others, is a known toxin found in personal care products such as soaps, cosmetic cleansers, shampoos and toothpaste. Nitrosamines are toxic chemicals found in cosmetic and personal care products. Since, both of these toxic chemicals are considered as byproducts, they are not required to be listed as ingredients.

Also, it is easy to be fooled by the labels on products that say "natural", because what is considered "natural" is not regulated by the FDA or the USDA. The USDA does regulate what is organic and USDA certified organic. If a product is 100% USDA certified organic, then you know that you have a true organic product. If a product is not 100% USDA certified, the best thing to do is to research the ingredients.

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization, has their Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. Cosmetic and personal care products can be searched by company, product name or ingredient. The site provides a safety score between 0 and 10, with 0 being the safest. This site has been very helpful for me to determine which products are safe to use.

At first, it was very challenging for me to find truly chemical free organic and natural products that were affordable. The best way to ensure that the products we use are safe is to research the ingredients or purchase 100% USDA certified organic products. Finding reputable companies that are dedicated to providing only truly natural and organic products is a good idea, since you will have a trusted source to buy from.