Pampering or Poisoning: 5 Toxic Chemicals to Keep Away from Your Skin
July 21, 2015
Skin: the largest organ in our bodies. It protects us from outside microbes and elements, regulates our body temperature and facilitates our sense of touch. It’s also the most absorbent of organs. What we put on our skin enters into our bodies through our pores and slides straight into our bloodstream.
Would you believe me, then, if I told you what you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your mouth? Our personal care products are poisoning us and we know it! Now what are we doing to change that? Lets. Get. Educated. Oh it’s about cost, is it? How much money do we really spend on naturally infused shampoo, lavender scented bath oils? Let’s not forget everyone’s favorite ‘go to gift’: the infamous basket of lotion and sprays.
Alright, have I’ve got your attention? Before you starting turning your bathroom upside down reading through ingredients, how about a drive-thru chemistry lesson? I want you to go in there prepared and with a good head start.
The purpose of this list is not to scare but to educate. We make better decisions when we take the time to educate ourselves on things that affect our daily lives.
1. Our first culprit: the sneaky, Cocamidopropyl Betaine.
This chemical is found in a lot of our personal care products such as shampoo, body wash and toothpaste. Why do I say it’s sneaky? Most companies get away with labeling it as “natural” because it’s derived from coconut oil. Sneaky. It’s used as an agent to get our products foamy. However, the truth about cocamidopropyl betaine is that many people have reported allergic reactions ranging from rashes to burning, blistering skin. Ouch!
2. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and its cousin Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).
These are found in detergents, toothpaste, shampoos, soaps and the list goes on. Their purpose is to make “foam”. Are you noticing a pattern, here? We’ve been programmed and conditioned ourselves to see foam and think clean. These industries are banking on our foam theory dependence. There’s nothing like a luxuriously foamy shampoo to lather up those gorgeous locks. Am I right, ladies? Here’s what the National Health Information Centre had to say about shampoos and their use of SLES & SLS:
“Shampoos are among the most frequently reported products to the FDA. Reports include eye irritation, scalp irritation, tangled hair, swelling of the hands, face and arms, split and fuzzy hair.”
3. Ready for the next one? Tocopheryl Acetate.
At first glance, it’s a seemingly harmless, man-made alternative to Vitamin E. It’s most often used in skincare products because of it’s ability to neutralize cancer-causing free radicals. It’s also known for it’s mild antioxidant properties. Which is great, right? The downside to that is, companies will add a little something called acetic acid. This acid is similar to the corrosive acid found in vinegar. On it’s own, acetic acid is often used as a main ingredient of glue and used for developing film. They put this stuff in your face cream and body lotions to give it a longer shelf life. Well that’s nice of them…
4. It’s why we recycle! Because you can’t run from plastic; Phthalates:
These chemicals are used to make plastic more flexible and harder to break. Basically they’re used for things like vinyl flooring, automotive plastics and random things like raincoats. Here’s the thing though, it’s also in perfume, hair sprays and nail polishes. The Breast Cancer Fund says phthalates are linked to early puberty in girls, presenting an increasing future risk of breast cancer.
5. And here’s the big boy, Dioxin. The most dangerous part about this chemical, is that you won’t find it in the ingredients. That’s right. It causes cancer, lowers the immune system, attributes to nervous system disorders, miscarriages and birth defects. So how can you detect if your products are carrying this hazardous chemical? Polyethylene glycol, PEG for short. You can search for PEG to sniff out the dioxin in your products. To break it down for you, PEG is made by ethoxilating propylene. It’s a lengthy and scientific process but through this process, dangerous levels of dioxin are created. Ready for the whopper? It’s found in EVERYTHING! To name a few, it’s in your shampoo, soap, baby products and sunscreens.
Time for the good news, yay!
There is hope. People are waking up and making changes. We’re learning and thirsting for ways to go back to basics and live ‘naturally’. There are conscious individuals who dream of a world where we’re all bathing in organic shea butter and coconut oil. Ditch the toxic factory made stuff and take care of your skin! Experience all that mother earth has to offer.
Need a starting off point? Here are some beauty conscious vendors that pride themselves on hand crafting, plant based and natural products just for you!
Bello Body – Based out of our very own Coral Gables.
Metta Botanica – Based out of Savannah, GA.
Now that you know better, do better.