“You have two homes, your body and the earth, take care of them” – unknown
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I have slowly been switching out my beauty products, cleaning products, air fresheners, etc. to toxic-free products that are better for my health and for the environment. It took me a long time to start switching out my products because to be honest, I wasn’t convinced that the ingredients in these products were really that bad. After looking through the research I realized that I was very wrong.
Toxins can be found in pretty much every area of our life. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the products we use to wash our clothes, clean our house, what we put on our face and bodies, personal care products, deodorant, candles, etc. can (and most likely do unless you’re already informed) contain toxins.
First, let’s look at some major sources of toxins:
- Non-organic produce (pesticides)
- Canned foods (BPA/DEHP)
- Non-organic/non-grass fed meats
- Fragrances, parabens, and phthalates in products (skincare, makeup)
- Chemicals in furniture (flame-retardants)
- Plastic (heating plastic releases toxins into food/water – BPA included, but not exclusively)
- Air Pollution
- Cleaning Products
Next, let’s take a look at what these toxins are doing to our bodies:
First of all, there are 1000s of different toxins that can have a variety of effects on the body, everything from organ toxicity to endocrine [hormone] disruption. Here are two, just to give you a little taste of what might be in your products… [and food!]
Parabens have gotten a bad rep in the last 10 or so years, but should they? Let’s take a look at what the research has to say. First, let’s talk about the Parabens commonly found in beauty products – Isobutylparaben methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. If you click on the links to each of these ingredients, they all show some link to endocrine disruption – propylparaben, butylparaban, and isobutylparaben being the worst – all rated on the EWG scale between a 7-8 (EWG scale is from 1-10 based on toxicity, 10 being the worst).
The question I always had was – do these even make it past the first layer of skin? Because not all of these chemicals have been tested, we really don’t know for some of the chemicals, however we know that Parabens do penetrate the skin barrier due to a research paper published in the early 2000’s. In 2004, a British scientist found parabens in cancerous breast tissue. The reaction? None, because there was no proof that the Parabens had any relationship to the cancer, which is a fair point. Sure, this doesn’t prove that Parabens have anything to do with cancer, however it does prove that Parabens are small enough to pass through the outer layer of skin into our tissues. So even if it isn’t linked to cancer, do you want a synthetic chemical in your tissues? That’ll be a no from me.
Alright – so Parabens might have something to do with cancer, they might not – but one thing is for sure, the evidence strongly suggests that they Parabens are endocrine (hormone) disruptors. For example, Isobutylparaben, was banned in cosmetics by the European Union because it was found unsafe (see link below for evidence) yet we still use it in products here in the U.S. – Surprising? Not really, look at the “food” we have been consuming over the last 10 years.
For the sake of length, I am going to link the studies here for you to check out on your own if you’re interested.
Fragrance (rated 8 on the EWG scale) is not regulated in products, which means that it may contain 3,000+ chemical ingredients, including many hormone disruptors and allergens. Since Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets, companies are not required to disclose what is in their fragrance. According to EWG, fragrance is a known human immune system disrupter. Fragrance can be found in perfume, skin products, personal care products, house cleaners, laundry detergent, etc.
Here’s what EWG has to say about it – “The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.”
If something is a known human immune system disrupter, why are we still putting it in our products? Probably for the same reason why processed food that is known to cause obesity, yet is still sitting on our shelves – it’s cheap to make, people are largely uniformed and it sells.
Sound bad? These are just 2 of the 1,000s of chemicals found in products. Now can you see why people are raising concern?
Ok, that’s the bad news, the good news is there are a ton of brands out there (like Primally Pure) committed to creating products that work and are safe for your skin/health. I will be sharing more about those in future blog posts! I am also going to share some DIY products I’ve been using myself to help cut down on cost of switching over to safer products.
I am planning on expanding on this a lot more in future posts, I just wanted to get something out there with the basics. Here’s the bottom line – we are flooding our body with toxins, not eating enough antioxidants and then acting surprised that disease is so prevalent. Let’s be informed and make changes where we can so we not only live healthier lives, but also give the earth a break from the toxic chemicals we are pouring into our water system daily, etc.
*Interested in seeing where your products rank? EWG.org, EWG.org/skindeep, and the Think Dirty app are all great places to look up your products. Sometimes the products aren’t listed, but you can search individual ingredients on the site to find specific information on each ingredient.