Top 5 Chemicals to Avoid in Personal Care Products

Toxic Chemicals in our hair products, skin care, make-up and other personal products

Did you know that if you use cosmetics on a regular basis, you can absorb about 5 pounds of toxic chemicals every year? Did you know that the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 different ingredients daily?

Unfortunately, as much as we would like to hope that our government regulates all these chemicals in our products, they just don’t.  According to the FDA’s website: “FDA’s legal authority over cosmetics is different from other products regulated by the agency, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives.” Because products are not regulated before going on the market, it is extremely important to understand what is in our everyday products before using it on ourselves and even more so our children!

As a woman, I believe it is extremely important to be well informed when it comes to personal care products. As a result, I am going to keep it simple and list the top 5 toxins that I avoid when shopping for products.

Here are my top 5 chemicals to avoid in personal care products

1. Polyethylene (aka. PEG, Polyethylene Glycol, Polyoxyethylene, -eth, -oxynol)

According to “The Secret History of the War on Cancer” by Devra Davis, polyethylene is a dangerous carcinogen. Studies have shown that the chemical causes breast cancer. Sadly enough, the chemical is only legal in US and Canada. It is completely banned by European Union due to its direct link to cancer.

2. Parabens

This toxic compound usually comes with a prefix: methyl/ethyl/propyl parabens. This artificial preservative is a known carcinogen. It’s frightening when I find this carcinogen in “organic” products. Physiologically, parabens mimic estrogen in our bodies which cause cancer. During one particular study, this preservative was found in 19 out of 20 breast cancer tumors of the women studied. Due to the estrogen mimicking effect, it also causes early puberty and decreased sperm levels. Stay clear of it!

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This one is controversial. There are many rumors of this chemical being a carcinogen; however, the research states that the main problem is it gets into your tissues including your brain and allows other toxic chemicals into your body. Some research has even demonstrated that this chemical creates neurotoxicity aka. killing brain cells! Controversial or not, I am going with the old adage: When in doubt, throw it out.

4. Phthalates

These compounds are known to block male hormones which will in turn cause male reproductive disorders. All women should absolutely avoid this pregnant especially when giving birth to a male. It is commonly found in nail polish but also in flexible plastics. Metabolites of this toxic compound is readily found in American tested urine. Ew…

5. Oxybenzone

Found in sunscreen. Studies suggest that this chemical interferes with hormone regulation in pregnant women. It has been linked to irritation and allergies.

When looking for products, go with natural personal care products but beware of so-called “vegan” or “organic” products that still contain these toxins. There are some amazing brands out there for cosmetics and wonderful websites dedicated to natural ways to maintain personal hygiene. For more information, there is a great website database on personal care products: 

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Yours In Health,

Dr. Jamie