We are all becoming increasingly aware of the need to eat well and exercise to protect our future health and avoid diseases like cancer. But not only what we eat gets into our body. Every day we are surrounded by thousands of chemicals that we rub on our skin, spray in the air and soak into us. We cover ourselves in chemical beauty products and keep our homes clean while releasing hundreds of potentially harmful chemicals into our personal environment. To feel calm, we perfume our homes with products linked to cancers like breast cancer. The range of cosmetic and beauty products has grown so large that shampoo selection can take hours, but most of these products contain potentially harmful ingredients and few chemicals have been tested for the effects of long-term use. Women today use an average of 20 different personal care products every day, each containing 10 or more chemicals.
Research is increasing to prove the potential harm of the “chemical cocktail effect”; the unknown interactions that occur between chemicals used together in products of everyday life. It may disturb you to know that unlike the food industry, the cosmetics industry is largely self-regulating; There is little control over what goes into the products. But like the food industry, we know that this multi-billion dollar industry is primarily focused on making money and therefore cutting corners and using cheap products that are highly processed and chemically derived; often by-products of the petrochemical industry.
Just for fun, here’s the list of ingredients in my popular Revitalizing Hand Wash with Natural Essential Oils (all of which you’ll find in many of your beauty products):
o Aqua: It’s just water, although Aqua definitely sounds more expensive.
o Sodium Laureth Sulfate: This will be in many of your beauty products and is a foaming agent. The American Food and Drugs Administration classifies it as a drug because of its effects on the human body. It is a powerful cleaning agent and is used by workshops to remove oil from floors; It strips the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and exposed. It has been linked to eye problems and can combine with other chemicals used in the product to produce carcinogens; carcinogenic chemicals. Because of its effect on the natural balance of skin oils, it’s best to avoid products containing this chemical if you suffer from eczema, acne, rosacea, or skin sensitivity.
o Cocamidopropyl Betaine: a thickening, emulsifying, and antistatic agent that is inexpensive to manufacture, versatile in use, and scientifically linked to contact dermatitis, eczema, and skin sensitivity in some people.
o Methylparabens: The family of parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl) are found in a variety of beauty products and are known to disrupt the body’s natural hormonal balance. They are closely linked to cancer, with a University of Reading study finding that parabens are present in breast tumors and can cause problems with fertility or fetal development. They are commonly found in baby and children’s products, as well as many skin lotions and creams. They are classified as toxic and are also known to cause skin problems such as skin sensitivity, itching, burning, blistering, and rashes.
o Sodium chloride: salt.
o Perfume: a synthetic fragrance. These chemicals largely come from petrochemicals (nice) and enter the body through skin absorption, inhalation, or ingestion. 1/3 of synthetic fragrances are believed to cause skin sensitivity and skin problems, and the US Food and Drugs Administration lists them as the leading cause of allergic reactions to beauty products. There is no evidence of possible long-term effects of these drugs. Some synthetic fragrances, such as musk, can bioaccumulate in the body and accumulate in fats (including breast milk). Most people accumulate significant amounts of these chemicals in their bodies, which has led Germany and Japan to ban many of them from beauty products. They are used extensively in home fragrances.
o Citrus Aurantium Dulcis: Sweet orange extract – finally something natural!
o Citrus Aurantium Amara: bitter orange oil.
o Cymbopogon Schoenanthus: lemongrass extract.
o Olea Europaea: Despite the fancy name, it is just olive extract.
o Tetrasodium EDTA: It is considered safe when used in small amounts in cosmetics, but is also used in large amounts in household detergents. This chemical compound can affect the body at the cellular level, making it easier for chemicals to enter cells. It is rapidly cleared from the body through urination and accumulates in the environment in ground water, rivers and drinking water and as such is of major environmental concern. Further studies are needed to determine potential health effects on humans and the entire food chain.
o Sodium lactate: a known irritant to the respiratory tract, eyes and skin in large amounts. Also used in the food industry.
o Polyquaternium-7: This chemical can break down into chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems. It is believed that safety testing performed in the industry may not be sufficient to determine a true risk factor.
o Sodium Benzoate: This chemical is only safe in small amounts and is a classified toxin. It is suspected of having a toxic effect on the brain, skin, blood, liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. Due to toxicity concerns, it has a safe limit for addition to cosmetics, although there is no safe limit for products where it can be inhaled.
o Citric Acid: This ingredient has not been tested for safety as it is believed to be completely safe to use.
o Propylene Glycol: a by-product of the petroleum industry that is also used in antifreeze and brake fluids. It can cause skin sensitivity and the skin is more easily penetrated by other chemicals. In large quantities, this chemical must be handled only with protective clothing, gloves, and goggles, and skin contact can cause liver, brain, and kidney abnormalities. Lucky for you, it’s used in much smaller amounts in cosmetics and household products; Still, I think I’ll try to miss it under the circumstances. There are no data on the long-term use of this chemical.
o Methylchloroisothiazolinone: sounds nasty and it is. This is associated with skin sensitivity, lung sensitivity and is toxic to the immune system. It has two security borders, one for things that get washed up and one for things that are left on it. I don’t know about you, but if it’s not safe to stay on my skin, I’m not sure I even want it there.
o Hexyl Cinnamal: This is registered as an allergen in America, where it is required by law to be listed in product information, although it is considered safe for cosmetic use.
o Citronellol: another scent associated with skin sensitivity.
o Citral: This fragrance can cause skin irritation and is an irritant. It is subject to restrictions in the event of insufficient quality and is also used in food. It is a classified toxin and suspected of causing liver and immune system toxicity.
o Limonene: This scent is similar to the above and causes skin irritation, burning, itching and hives in sensitive individuals. It is a registered chemical hazard with handling restrictions and an environmental toxin that is dangerous to wildlife if it contaminates the water system (ie if it flows down the drain).
Well, after all this I don’t feel so much revitalized as I feel disgusted. My hand soap contains 21 ingredients, 14 of which can cause health problems ranging from dry and irritated skin to cancer. As a hand soap, I’m allowed to use this product up to 10 times a day, which is 70 times a week, and yet it contains many chemicals that are at best not good for me and at worst bad for me. Then there are the other products I come into contact with throughout the day; shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, face and body moisturizer, fabric cleaner and conditioner on my clothes, dish soap on my kitchen utensils, hairspray in the changing rooms; the list is endless. All of these chemicals have the potential to enter my body through my skin, lungs and digestive system, and there is mounting evidence that this cocktail of chemicals can be harmful in the short and long term. It is certainly true that these chemicals will have a more noticeable effect on children and babies. It seems that you are not only what you eat!
Thanks to Vikki Scovell