In order for commercially available products to be profitable, companies must sometimes use synthetic materials that have a long shelf life and can be mass produced at a low rate. Products with an unnaturally long shelf life can be detrimental because they don’t break down easily and cause issues in the organisms that absorb them but can’t utilize them properly. The only way to be completely sure your products are safe to use is to make them yourself.
Ingredients Found In Everyday Products That Are Unsafe To Use
Surfactants. Surfactants are what make different products lather with suds. Soap suds don’t occur much naturally, and is often the result of a chemical agent. Surfactants aren’t typically harmful to humans, but they can be toxic to aquatic life given the quantity of soap being washed down the drain every day. In large quantities they can work their way into the food chain and ultimately damage enzyme activity in animals and humans. It’s better to avoid such products.
Preservatives. Soaps and shampoos don’t normally come with expiration dates. That’s because they’re full of preservatives to prevent the growth of yeast, mold, and bacteria. But the problem is they don’t break down easily and they accumulate very rapidly. Once they work their way into the food chain, preservatives can have a range of toxicity problems for both humans and the environment because they’re designed to kill things, including healthy bacteria.
Fragrance. The term fragrance, aka parfum, is often used as an umbrella term for all kinds of chemicals (at least 3,000) to sneak into your products. About 95% of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum. Unfortunately, many of these have been linked to cancer.
Triclosan. This chemical is most often found in antibacterial soap. Recent studies have found that triclosan actually promotes the growth of bacteria resistant to antibiotic cleansers. It also creates dioxin, a carcinogen that has been found in high levels in human breast milk. Dioxins have disruptive effects on the endocrine system and negatively affect thyroid functions. It’s also the primary toxic component of Agent Orange, an herbicide used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.
Parabens. These ingredients are estrogen mimickers—meaning that once applied to the skin, they enter the bloodstream, and the body mistakes them for estrogen. When the body thinks there is an abnormally high amount of estrogen present in the bloodstream, it reacts by increasing fat deposits, causing early onset of puberty, and spurring reproductive difficulties in both men and women.
Sulfates. These chemicals are used to produce lather and bubbles in soap. Some common sulfates are SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate). Sulfates strip the skin of its natural oils and increase penetration of the skin’s surface. They are also irritants for people with sensitive skin or eczema.When used in toothpaste, it can cause canker sores for some people.
Phthalates. Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are classified as endocrine disrupting compounds and have been linked to a variety of health issues including birth defects. Exposure to phthalates has been linked to changes in genital formation, early puberty, type 2 diabetes, and behavioral problems in humans. Unfortunately, more than 470 million pounds of phthalates are produced each year, and they can be found in a wide range of products from soft plastics and pesticides, to wallpaper and cosmetics.
Propylene glycol. Named by the American Contact Dermatitis Society as the 2018 allergen of the year, this petroleum based material is commonly found in foods, cosmetics, fragrances, and pharmaceuticals. Mostly, it’s used as a texturizer and as an emulisfier to prevent ingredients from separating. In large quantities, studies have shown that proplylene glycol can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver, and heart.
Ethanolamines. Ethanolamines are used in cosmetics as an emulsifier, foaming agent, and pH balancer, and have been linked to liver tumors. Legally, ethanolamines can only be used in products intended to be rinsed off, but studies show that even when rinsed, 52-68% of it can still remain on the upper layers of skin, which is a highly absorbent organ.
Octinoxate. As an inexpensive chemical to produce,
Oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is another popular ingredient found in at least 80% of UV blocking cosmetics. While it absorbs harmful UV rays, studies show that the skin absorbs it, and can stay in the body for an unknown amount of time. While in the body, oxybenzone mimics hormones and can disrupt the endocrine system, causing endometriosis; a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside of it. The Federal Centers for Disease control and Prevention reported oxybenzone has been found in more than 96% of the U.S. population.
Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is widely used as a preservative and a bonding agent. It is a natural occurring chemical produced in small amounts by most organisms, but exposure to elevated levels has been linked to cancer.Many preservatives used in cosmetics release formaldehyde as a gas or vapor and can be easily absorbed by the body. Some of these preservatives include: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol,and glyoxal.
Glycerin. The majority of commercially available toothpaste contains glycerin. Glycerin isn’t toxic, but it’s a soap that strips your mouth of it’s natural mucous membrane and leaves a thin film. This film eventually weakens tooth enamel by preventing minerals in your saliva from interacting with it. It can take up to 30 days of not using glycerin for it to completely wash away from tooth enamel.
Artificial colorings. Most dyes are a petroleum derived product. Certain ones labeled “D&C” have been approved by the FDA to be used in drugs, cosmetics, and toothpaste, but not food. These dyes have been linked to health concerns ranging from asthma to skin rashes, but if you can’t use them in foods, why would you put it in your mouth at all? Stay away from toothpastes containing any artificial dyes.
Titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is used as coloring agent to make toothpaste, soaps, and other things white. Most reports show it’s safe and not absorbed by the skin, but there are no studies that measure absorption by oral tissues. It’s only purpose is to make toothpaste white, so why risk it?