Toxic Skin Products

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Toxic Skin Products

Last week I posted an article on cleaning products.  I thought I’d continue the theme, and today tell you what to avoid in skin care products.

As a review, last week I said the best thing to do was to read labels, and avoid those that came with a warning, such as “this could be fatal if inhaled,” or “contact poison control immediately if X occurs,” etc.  But unfortunately, topical products almost always contain at least some chemicals we don’t recognize, even the so-called “clean” ones.  That means you’ve got to read more carefully.

So, here’s the Hall of Shame:

  • Parabens: this is usually a suffix, so look for any word that ends in this.  These are used as preservatives, but are associated with endocrine (hormonal) cancers.  Specifically they have been linked with breast cancer.  They are banned in Japan and Sweden.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate: another suspected carcinogen, this one is linked to kidney and liver damage (and is associated with frequent UTIs), nervous system disruption, eye damage, eczema and dermatitis, and is also linked with SLE (Lupus).   It’s been banned in Europe and Central America.
  • Phthalates: these are in plastics – the softer the plastic, the more phthalates are in there.  They are also endocrine disruptors, associated with endocrine cancers, and can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system.  They were banned in the EU in plastic toys, but are still used in plenty of toiletry products.
  • Propylene Glycol: found in antifreeze, this is toxic to the nervous system.  It can also clog pores and speed up skin aging by depleting moisture from deeper skin layers.  It has been banned in Europe.
  • Aluminum: found in most deodorants, aluminum toxicity has been linked with Alzheimer’s (and also potentially with autism).
  • Formaldehyde (aka formalin, formal and methyl aldehyde): used as a disinfectant and preservative, it’s a suspected carcinogen (especially linked with lung cancer).  Exposure in high doses can cause asthma, headaches, eye irritation and upper respiratory irritation (I can attest to this firsthand from anatomy lab).  It’s been banned in Japan and Sweden.
  • Toluene: a solvent toxic to the nervous system; can also damage the liver, cause asthma, and disrupt the endocrine system.
  • Anything ending in -ethanolamine (Diethanolamine, Triethanolamine, Monoethanolamine): used as emulsifiers and foaming agents, upon absorption, these become nitrosamines, which can cause cancer.  They are also endocrine disruptors and skin irritants.
  • Talc: increases risk for ovarian cancer specifically, and for UTIs.
  • Xylene (aka xytol or dimethylbenzene): can damage your liver, and cause skin and respiratory tract irritation.

My general rule?  Whenever possible I buy products with as few ingredients as possible – and I try to stick to those I recognize.  If I just have to have a certain type of product, I scan the ingredient list for these primary offenders.  If they aren’t on there, I go ahead and buy it.

Does that mean there might still be something on the list that could cause some damage?  Yep.  But again, we live in a toxic world, and we can’t control everything.  I do the best I can and try not to obsess over the rest, since phobias are not healthy either!

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By | 2017-05-30T07:38:20+00:00 September 7th, 2012|Categories: Articles, Beauty|Tags: , , , , , |8 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Lauren Deville is board-certified to practice medicine in the State of Arizona. She received her NMD from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ, and she holds a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Arizona, with minors in Spanish and Creative Writing. She also writes fiction under a pen name in her spare time. Visit her author website at www.authorcagray.com.

8 Comments

  1. […] if you DO decide to try some of the anti-cellulite creams on the market, READ YOUR LABELS.  Make sure none of the no-no ingredients are on the list. And then as long as you’re applying them anyway, you might as well massage them in well – […]

  2. […] if you DO decide to try some of the anti-cellulite creams on the market, READ YOUR LABELS.  Make sure none of the no-no ingredients are on the list. And then as long as you’re applying them anyway, you might as well massage them in well – that […]

  3. […] an enclosed space.  Now, I certainly recommend instead choosing non-toxic self-care products (i.e. avoiding these chemicals), and healthy cleaning products (check out the list) whenever possible.  But since it’s […]

  4. […] an enclosed space.  Now, I certainly recommend instead choosing non-toxic self-care products (i.e. avoiding these chemicals), and healthy cleaning products (check out the list) whenever possible.  But since it’s unlikely […]

  5. […] There as been much speculation regarding the cause of this decline.  One of them involves environmental toxins.  Many commonly used chemicals have an endocrine-disrupting effect (i.e. they screw up your hormones), including phthalates, parabens, diethanolamine, triethanolamine, monoethanolamine, and toluene, to n…. […]

  6. […] Avoid xenoestrogens. Your liver is remarkably efficient at clearing out toxins. Choose your dirty dozen fruits and veggies organic and uncanned; choose free range and organic dairy and meat, rather than agriculture-industry animal products; leave your windows open when you can, and get a good air filter for your home; swap out your plastic storage containers for glass or pyrex; swap out your cookware for stainless steel; and choose truly clean cleaning products and skin products. […]

  7. […] if you DO decide to try some of the anti-cellulite creams on the market, READ YOUR LABELS.  Make sure none of the no-no ingredients are on the list. And then as long as you’re applying them anyway, you might as well massage them in well – […]

  8. […] There as been much speculation regarding the cause of this decline.  One of them involves environmental toxins.  Many commonly used chemicals have an endocrine-disrupting effect (i.e. they screw up your hormones), including phthalates, parabens, diethanolamine, triethanolamine, monoethanolamine, and toluene, to n…. […]

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