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The Importance of Knowing What is in Your Products

Why use paraben-free, natural skin care products? Or products free of phthalates, sulfates and petroleum products? Why seek cleaning products that are toxin free? There are countless reasons why it is so important to pay attention to what is in your products. Here are just a few: 

  • The average woman uses a dozen personal care products containing 168 ingredients every day.
  • Skin is the body's largest organ
  • We absorb, inhale and ingest many of these chemicals into our bodies
  • Most chemicals have not been tested for safety. Only 11% of ingredients used in personal care products have been tested by the FDA. There has been almost no testing for long term impact, cumulative effect or impact on the environment.
  • A study was done in 2004 by the Red Cross and Environmental Working Group. They examined the umbilical cord blood of newborns who had not been in direct contact with industrialized society. They detected a total of 287 chemicals in babies’ cord blood – 180 chemicals that cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 that are toxic to the brain and nervous system, 208 that cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal studies
  • The US Centers for Disease Control conducted a study with a random sample of adults. They found phthalates in ALL of the men and women in the study.
    1. Phthalates have been linked to birth defects in male reproductive systems – they disrupt the production of testosterone that is critical for making boys into boys.
    2. All 289 were found to have at least DHP, the strongest toxin of all of the phthalates (pronounced thay-lates).
    3. Women between 20 and 40 had the highest concentration – the exact group that is likely to pass the phthalates onto developing fetuses.
    4. Phthalates are what make plastics soft and bendable (think shower curtains or soft baby toys) and allow scent and color to stay potent/strong in consumer products.
    5. Best way to avoid – don’t buy products with strong vinyl smell, don’t use plastic in the microwave, and avoid products with chemical fragrance.
  • Think about what a typical woman uses or is exposed to every day –
  1. Personal Care:
    • Soap
    • Face wash
    • Face Moisturizer
    • Make-up
    • Lipstick
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Styling products
    • Body lotion
    • Deodorant
    • Nail polish 
    • Perfume
  2. Household
    • Cleaning products
    • Dishwashing liquid
    • Air sanitizer
    • Scented candles
  3. Environmental
    • Exhaust fumes
    • Re-circulated air
    • Co-workers scents/perfumes
  • Now – consider the fact that there is no agency or group who is examining the impact of all of those exposures in total. Scary, isn’t it? 
  • Think about our children. We are exposing them starting as a fetus to chemicals that they have no control over. They absorb more chemicals into their bodies (pound for pound) and their bodies are unable to eliminate the chemicals as effectively as adults.
  • Remember: just because a product is manufactured by a reputable brand doesn’t mean that it is necessarily high quality or safe. According to the last list published by the Cosmetic Safety Database, the top 10 brands of CONCERN were:
    1. Dark & Lovely by L’Oreal
    2. Clairol by Procter & Gamble
    3. Biotherm by L’Oreal
    4. Herbal Clear by Herbalcare
    5. L’Occitane by L’Occitane
    6. St Ives by Alberto Culver
    7. L’Oreal by L’Oreal
    8. Coppertone by Schering-Plough
    9. Revlon by Revlon
    10. Garnier by L’Oreal

In order to limit your exposure to unnecessary toxins, when you shop for personal care items, be sure to read labels. Avoid products with:

  • Parabens (methyl-, butyl-, propyl-, etc.)
  • Fragrance (unless the ingredients are listed or it states that it is phthalate-free)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate