Our skin is our largest organ and it’s highly permeable. It absorbs about 60 percent (or more) of what we put on it. With many ditching the toxic ingredients and hazardous chemicals in processed foods, due to the harmful effect on the body, it leaves us to wonder...
What if some beauty products are wreaking havoc on our body just the same?
Not that we haven't seen the fine print, but new eye-opening studies are showing that an extremely large number of these products are causing major health problems including infertility, birth defects, learning disabilities, eye damage, depression, joint pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cancer.
Placing these toxic ingredients on our body may be even more detrimental than eating them.
When you eat something, it’s broken down and flushed out by the natural enzymes in our saliva and in the digestive tract. When you put something on your skin, there is no filter, leading it to travel straight into the bloodstream where it can affect our organs, brain function, immune system and so on. The truth is, just because a product is on the shelf of your grocery store or beauty supply shop does not mean that it’s safe.
To know what is safe, check out a list of 15 "red flag" ingredients to avoid when buying beauty and grooming products, courtesy of Healing Lifestyles & Spas Safe Beauty & Body Guide.
Parabens - Used as a preservative to prevent bacteria growth, these bad boys have been found in the tumors of women who suffer from breast cancer… scary!
PEG Compounds (polyethylene glycols) - These petroleum-based chemical compounds are commonly used as thickeners, softeners, and moisturizers (and strangely enough, are used in laxatives too). The slipperiness and permeability (as it relates to the skin) of this toxic ingredient is a great way to transport toxic ingredients into the pores and potentially the bloodstream. Even the California Environmental Protection Agency classified PEG as a developmental toxicant that may interfere with human development.
Sulfates - Many companies are now putting “sulfate free” on labels, as the heightened awareness around its toxicity is growing. Though there are many different sulfates, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are the most commonly found in beauty products. They act as a foaming agent so that a little goes a long way. But at what price? Sulphates have been shown to cause skin irritations, wreck hair – stripping color and causing it to become dry and brittle. Two chemicals called 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide are also commonly found in products that have sulfates. Dioxane is a proven carcinogen and ethylene oxide has been labeled by the California EPA as a developmental and nervous system toxin.
Chemical Sunscreens - One of the most dangerously overlooked beauty products are chemical sunscreens. The most common compounds in sunscreen are oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Many of these active ingredients are shown to disrupt hormones including estrogen, androgen and progesterone. These man-made poisons are also known to cause skin allergies and breathing problems among other things. Furthermore, many sunscreens act as a total barrier, blocking out even the beneficial energies of the sun, which means less melanin stimulation and more Vitamin D deficiency (which we are seeing a lot of these days).
Synthetic Colors - Why use synthetic colors when there are all natural options available from vegetables, herbs and other plants? These lab-made tints are typically listed as a color plus a number, for example, Red No.6. They are believed to be cancer-causing agents and should be avoided.
Synthetic Fragrances - If you see the word "fragrance" or "parfum" on a label, there is absolutely no way to know what it is made out of. Fragrances are considered trade secrets by companies and fall into a giant loophole because there are no federal regulations concerning these mystery ingredients. Many toxins can be labeled as “fragrance” and some are suspected to cause skin irritations, breathing problems, hyperpigmentation, dizziness and even vomiting!
Nanoparticles - These tiny questionable particles are sometimes not even listed on labels and can be absorbed straight into the bloodstream. Widely found in many beauty products such as bronzers, eye shadows, lotions and sunscreens, these miniscule particles (that are so highly absorbable), are suspect for causing cell damage, inflammation and oxidative stress.
Products or ingredients tested on animals - It’s pretty obvious why this practice is unethical. Why should our furry friends have to suffer the wrath of our franken-concoctions? If it’s being tested on animals, then obviously it’s already on the "possible toxin" list.The cool thing is if you buy all-natural, there’s really no need for them to test on animals since we already know that these products are safe for the human body.
Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives - Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and is found in many of today’s cosmetics. These products slowly release small amounts onto (and into) your body and over time can be a serious threat.
Phthalates - Damage to the kidneys and liver, decreased sperm count, birth defects and early breast development in girls and boys is linked to this toxic ingredient.
Triclosan - This synthetic antibacterial ingredient is registered as a pesticide by the EPA (harmful to the environment and obviously human health too). Furthermore, it’s classified as a chemical suspected to cause cancer.
Hydroquinone - Used to lighten skin discolorations, age spots or “liver spots,” hydroquinone can cause burning, redness and dryness of the epidermis. It can also induce dizziness and trouble breathing, so stay clear!
Talc - This common powder-like substance is often contaminated with asbestos (known to cause respiratory problems and cancer). Even talc that is free of asbestos is a form of magnesium silicate that too can be toxic and carcinogenic.
BHA/BHT - BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are used by the food industry as preservatives. They are thought to have toxic effects on the lungs and could be tumor promoters.
Lead - Surprisingly, lead is commonly found in lipstick, hair dyes and eyeliner. Many are curious why the FDA has not regulated lead in cosmetics. Even a small amount of lead in lipstick (which is unknowingly licked and eaten a lot) can lead to serious health problems from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to even seizures and death. Yikes!
So when you’re looking for skincare, haircare and beauty products in general, it’s really important to carefully read your labels and buy from companies that are non-toxic and all-natural (and preferably certified organic).
Some would even go as far to say, “If it’s not safe to eat, don’t put it on your body,” due to the fact that your skin is absorbing these ingredients via the pores, but if that's not practical, your second best bet is to go with companies that offer pure, non-GMO, organic produts, and have eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable practices.
Learn more about non-toxic, natural beauty products at Healing Lifestyles & Spas.
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