Harmful ingredients in toiletry products
In the past few years, there has been a staggering increase in the use of toiletry products most of which contain toxic chemicals -- something few of us are aware of. As most of the manufacturers would assure us, the level of exposure is low. This is true. But what they do not tell us is how the routine exposure to these toxic chemicals would impact our health in the long run.
Why should I be aware of this?
Our ancestors were never exposed to most of these chemicals and synthetic substances and coincidentally, suffered little or no cancer or degenerative disease. We constantly expose our immune system to these toxic chemicals without giving it adequate time to build defence against them.
All about harmful ingredients in toiletry products
Most of the chemical ingredients in our toiletries are actually used in industry. They are:
- Propylene Glycol(PG),-- A wetting agent used in make up products, hair care products and deodorants, is also used in antifreeze and brake fluids.
- Polyethylene Glycol a part of most skin cleansing products and also a disolving agent for grease, is the same substance found in oven cleaners.
- Isopropyl and Alcohol -- A poisonous solvent and denaturant (altering the structure of other chemicals), it is commonly found in hair colour rinses, body rubs, hand lotions, after shave lotions, fragrances. It is also used as a solvent and found in wood finishing lacquers.
- Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)-- Used in toothpastes, shampoos and just about every personal cleansing product on the market. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a harsh detergent commonly used as an engine degreaser and garage floor cleaner.
- Formaldehyde-- It is used in bubble bath, shampoos, moisturising lotions and many cosmetics as an inhibiting agent against carcinogenic nitrosamine production. It is a known carcinogen in itself. It is also used in vaccines as a preservative and given to children. Formaldehyde readily penetrates the skin and can cause serious future health concerns and often sensitises individuals to other chemicals. It is commonly used in agriculture as a foot rot treatment for sheep and cattle and as embalming fluid to preserve bodies.
What you also need to know
- Products that have foam such as bubble baths, shampoos, soaps and body washes in most cases have DEA and TEA present in them. DEA and MEA are particularly harmful. Though not toxic in themselves, but when these DEA, MEA, TEA react with any nitrites, they form carcinogens.
- Nitrites might be present in the product as anti-corrosive agents or might get formed as a result of degradation of other chemicals. Cosmetics remain on store shelves and in cabinets of consumers for long periods of time, allowing nitrosamines to form. If DEA is present, nitrosamines can continue to form throughout storage, especially at elevated temperatures.Accordig the the National Toxicology Program, there is suffecient evidence of dermal absorption of NDEA. It also observed that DEA is a precursor of NDEA which increase risk to cancer.
- Inadequae information given in product labels -- Apart from Europe, where the situation is slightly better as some safeguards regarding nitrosomating gents ( nitrite forming) are in place. Germany has the most stringent safeguards in place. This is not so in the US and Asia. In 1994, 42% of all cosmetics tested by FDA were found contaminated with NDEA.
What can I do?
It is important to know a few things before you buy you toiletry products. Look out for these harmful chemicals on the labels of your toiletries.
- DEA, MEA, TEA -- They cause allergies, dry skin and irritation to eye and also increase the risk to cancer.
- Petrolatum -- It causes skin related problems such as dry skin, acne and premature ageing.
- Imidazolidinyl -- cause joint pain, allergies, depression and chronic fatigue.
- Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) -- It can cause irritation to eyes, permamnent damage to eyes especially in the case of children, skin rash, hair loss and mouth ulcers.
- Methyl, Propyl,butyl and ethyl parabens -- These are toxic and can cause rashes and other skin reactions.
- Padimate-O -- It is found in sunscreen and can increase the risk of skin cancer.
- Synthetic Colours -- Look out for coal-tar dyes which are generally labeled as FD7C and D4C followed by a number. They are carcinogenic.
- Alcohol or Isopropyl -- It is associated with nausea, headaches, vomiting and depression.
- Talc -- Found in all types of powders including baby powders and condoms, is a known carcinogen. It is known to cause ovarian cancer if rubbed regularly in the genital area. It also causes repiratory problems.
- Fragrance -- It causes headache, dizziness, rashes and respiratory problems.
- Women who started dyeing their hair at the age of 20 are twice at risk as against women who started dyeing at the age of 40.
- According to recent daily use estimates, three personal care products are used on infants and children, men use ten personal care products, and women use six cosmetics and 13 personal and skin care products; some products are used several times daily.
- Assuming mainstream industry products each contain only two carcinogens, this results in daily exposures to six different avoidable toxic chemical carcinogens for infants and children, 20 for men, and 38 for women.
- Headaches can be triggeed by bath foams.
- Permanent and semi-permamnent hair colors increase risk to cancer, especially breast cancer.
- Tests on animals and humans show that during the 30 minutes the hair color is applied on the scalp, it is rapidly absorbed by the human body.
- Harmful chemical substances are partly or largely responsible for countless disorders such as asthma and ADHD and eczema in our children and many of the metabolic diseases, such as cancer, suffered by the population in general as they age.
- Experts associate multiple chemical sensitivity with the presence of toxic chemical in our toiletry products.
When you purchase organic toiletry products, see that they are certified natural and use food grade ingredients. Look out for the presence of above mentioned chemicals. If a product has long shelf life, chances of degradation and consequently nitrite formation are more. Avoid it.
Though cumbersome, it is safest to use kitchen ingredients to prepare your personal care product.
More on Harmful ingredients in toiletry products
What can I do to help
- Harmful Ingredients In Over The Counter Products
- Toxic Chemicals in Toiletries
- Certified Skin care And Organic Care
- Citizen Petition Seeking Cancer Warning on Cosmetics Containing DEA