When I first started Lemongrass Spa in Colorado sixteen years ago, I met Susan Roll, who was in the process of finalizing the SkinDeep Database on the Environmental Working Group’s website. She was so passionate and educated about the toxic load that personal care products had in the marketplace that she made it her life’s goal to educate and insist upon safer products. It was her mission to demand that skincare companies fully disclose their ingredients in products. Since the FDA does not regulate skincare and makeup, no one was watching what large cosmetics companies were hiding in their products. Come to find out, many of those companies were not concerned about the toxicity of their ingredients and many of those so-called ‘safe’ ingredients were in fact being absorbed into skin and wreaking havoc on the health of Americans.
Once SkinDeep and other organizations began testing and reporting toxic ingredients, consumers have demanded healthier options. This consumer demand has shifted the way brands are formulating and it’s been an incredible movement to watch over the last decade.
With the data published by the EWG, the Cosmetics Ingredient Review, the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and theCampaign for Safe Cosmetics, we put together a handy guide the illustrates some of the toxic ingredients that might be lurking in your personal care products and cosmetics.
Some of the worst offenders according to experts are sunscreens.
SkinDeep conducts a yearly sunscreen toxicity study, the worst sunscreens on the market which are used on kids are the aerosol sprays; in fact, they can intensify the suns’ UV rays making your kids susceptible to hormone disruption or even cancer.
The other product you probably hear about quite often is antiperspirant. Your body needs to regulate heat by sweating and even though it isn’t what you want to hear, clogging your pores by applying antiperspirant under your arms could lead to long term health issues. Most antiperspirants contain a heavy dose of aluminum and other heavy metals which are quickly absorbed into the body and into breast tissue. And in 2006 a study was released linking parabens (often found in deodorant) in breast cancer cells. Health advocates highly suggest trying alternatives such as deodorant paste with natural baking soda, charcoal deodorant with arrowroot powder or going cold turkey and applying a light dusting of arrowroot powder under your arms.
Cosmetics and perfumes can be detrimental if you’re not careful about reading the label. Not only do cosmetics often contain heavy metals, parabens and aluminum, but many also contain oxybenzone which is a chemical SPF liked to hormone disruption. Perfumes and fragrances contain the highest number of chemicals than anything on our list: anywhere from 250 – 400 different ingredients can be hidden in your favorite fragrance. Making the switch to plant-based scents or some essential oils are much healthier.
Making the switch to natural alternative doesn’t need to happen overnight. You can switch to cleaner products when you go to replace your everyday shower products, cosmetics, household cleaners and baby wash.
What have you done to help your family reduce their exposure to potential toxins?