Many of us remember playing “dress-up” as little girls: donning our mother’s clothes and putting on her makeup. Most girls look forward to the day when they will be old enough to wear cosmetics. But the toxic ingredients in many of these products can be detrimental. Let’s look at a few of these “undesirables.”
Other Names: Methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben.
Risk: Parabens mimic estrogen. They are linked to cancer, particularly breast cancer. Toxic to the reproductive, immune and nervous systems.
Products: Shampoos, bath products, lotions and makeup.
Other Names: Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, hydroxymethylglycinate.
Risk: A known human carcinogen. Irritation of eyes, nose, throat and skin. May cause asthma and cancer with repeated exposure.
Products: Hair and nail products, body wash, baby shampoo and cosmetics.
SLS and SLES
Other Names: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
Risk: Can enter and accumulate in the heart, brain and liver via the skin.
Products: These are foaming agents used in soaps and shampoos. They are also found in household cleaners and car degreasers.
Other Names: An multitude of chemicals and ingredients can hide under this heading.
Risk: Hormone disruption, reproductive problems and possibly cancer. Skin and respiratory sensitivity and/or irritation.
Products: Cosmetics and hair products. Products for face, body and nails. Any product with a scent.
Other Names: DBP, DEP, DEHP, Fragrance.
Risk: Endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity and cancer.
Products: Plastic baby bottles and teethers. Commonly used in cosmetics to carry fragrances. Used in medical devices made of flexible PVC (i.e., IV bags and tubing).
Other Names: Methylbenzene.
Risk: Headaches, dizziness, neurotoxicity, birth defects and miscarriage. Restricted in cosmetics in the EU.
Products: Nail polish; Hair dye.
Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
It’s important to read the ingredients listed on the label of your product. When in question about a particular ingredient, there is a resource that can provide information on most of these chemicals or substances. Launched in 2004 by EWG (Environmental Working Group), Skin Deep Cosmetics Database provides online safety profiles for many personal care products and cosmetics. You can search for a particular product or an individual ingredient here.
Being Good Stewards of our Health
After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. Ephesians 5:29-30
Most of us have heard, “We are what we eat.” But what goes on your body is just as important. Which products are you using that could be phased out and replaced by less toxic ones? If you have a favorite nontoxic choice, please feel free to share it in the comments!