Green Living QA: What Ingredients Should I Avoid The Most When Buying Body-Care Products?
08/01/2012 | 12:52 PM
What Ingredients Should I Avoid The Most When Buying Body-Care Products?
I think one of the most important things to avoid is the word “fragrance” on the label. It’s a manufacturer’s catch word that can mean there’s up to 100 synthetic chemicals in the product. Fragrances can contain neurotoxins and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. A recent Mayo Clinic study placed fragrances in the 10 most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis, and the Institute of Medicine (a division of the National Academy of Sciences) placed fragrance in the same category as second hand smoke in triggering asthma in adults and school age children.
Also, since most of us buy commercially made body-care products produced in a lab, it’s important to be aware of these three, potentially harmful chemicals found in most:
- Phthalates (pronounced thalates) help soften things like plastic toys, vinyl floor tiles, glues and inks, and in body-care products they are found in deodorant, lotions and fragrance and referenced on the label merely as “other.” Exposure to phthalates is known to cause reproductive problems and hormone disruption in humans and can harm the development of fetuses and children. Hundreds of animal studies have shown that phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and the reproductive system.
- Parabens (alkyl-p-hydroxybenzoates) are chemicals found in most commercially made soap and shampoo. They are used as antimicrobial preservatives in more than 13,000 cosmetic products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that all parabens – methyl, propyl, and butyl – are endocrine disruptors.
- DEA (Diethanolamine), (also derivatives such as cocamide DEA/Lauramide DEA, and MEA) which is used as a wetting, thickening and foaming agent in shampoos, bath products (including baby wash), liquid hand soaps shaving products, and deodorants. This group of chemicals has been shown to interfere with normal brain development in baby mice when applied to the skin of pregnant mice.
- chemical 1,4-Dioxane has shown up in many bodycare products, including “natural” ones. The Organic Consumer Association (OCA) urges consumers to search ingredient lists for words ending in the letters “eth” like "myreth," "oleth," "laureth," "ceteareth." Plus, watch out for "PEG," "polyethylene," "polyethylene glycol," "polyoxyethylene," or "oxynol."
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