How Safe are Your Cosmetics?
by Dr Don Colbert
Are you aware of all the harmful ingredients you may be using each day? Check your cosmetics’ labels and see how long the list is on the bottle. Some of these ingredients are not as safe as you think. In 2002, 75% of products tested by the Environmental Working Group contained phthalates, plasticizer chemicals linked to birth defects, liver and kidney damage, and infertility. None of the products, which included drug store brands like Cover Girl, Dove, and Revlon, had the word ‘phthalates’ listed on their bottles. This is just one example of a chemical hidden in our products.
But there are several steps you can take to decrease the amount of toxins entering your body. Begin by learning which products are safer for your skin and hair care routine. EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database rates thousands of products on a 0-10 scale based on their toxicity level. Here are some tips for what to use and what to avoid:
Try to avoid antibacterial soaps which often contain triclosan. This is in most, if not all, major brand name liquid antibacterial soaps. Triclosan is an antibacterial compound which is in cleaners, deodorants and other personal-care products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as a probable human carcinogen. Linked to developmental defects, and liver and inhalation toxicity, overuse of this chemical (which is actually a pesticide) can also result in drug-resistant superbacteria. Instead use alcohol based hand sanitizers or soap without antibacterial properties.
Very few sunscreens provide adequate sun protection and are free of harmful ingredients. Start using sunscreen with zinc or titanium as their main ingredients and stay away from oxybenzone if possible. Also, the higher the SPF the higher the percentage of chemicals so stick with an SPF under 50. Use hats and clothing especially rated for sun protection.
Start by avoiding products which contain fragrance. This is a catch all term that includes hundreds of chemicals and can trigger allergic reactions. Look instead for each fragrant ingredient. Try to stay away from shampoos with these other common ingredients: PEGs, ceteareths and polyethylene. Also avoid parabens: propyl, isopropyl, butyl, and isobutyl.
Many cleansers, lotions and sunscreens are marketing specifically for babies and children. However, these products may have the same chemicals in them. Use as few products on your children as possible. Don’t use diaper cream that contains boric acid and try to use an all-natural diaper wipe. Choose your children’s sunscreen carefully. Stay away, if possible, from wipes that contain 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol. Also, limit fluoride toothpaste for kids that may swallow it.
We are making important choices each day to eat organic foods to decrease the amount of pesticides and cancer causing chemicals in our bodies. We are drinking cleaner water from trusted sources that have been thoroughly tested for potential carcinogens and hormone disrupters. Let’s not forget about all the chemicals that we put onto our skin each day. Beauty may be skin deep but our health and well-being are not.