beauty products toxic ingredients

Avoid These 10 Toxic Ingredients in 2020

It's impossible to avoid every single synthetic chemical out there (there are more than 144,000 currently in existence!), but you can do your part in limiting the number of toxins your body is exposed to. Here are ten toxic ingredients we recommend avoiding and a list of which products you can commonly expect to find them...

It's impossible to avoid every single synthetic chemical out there (there are more than 144,000 currently in existence!), but you can do your part in limiting the number of toxins your body is exposed to. Here are ten toxic ingredients we recommend avoiding and a list of which products you can commonly expect to find them:

1. Synthetic Fragrances

Yes, they make your products smell delightful, but if you knew that one fragrance in a personal care product can consist of as many as 200 combined chemicals, you’d be less impressed. As opposed to scents that are naturally derived or plant-based (like essential oils), “fragrance” is a catch-all term and may contain combinations of the other toxic ingredients listed below.

Where to expect them:
Skincare, hair care, makeup, body spray, and perfume, cologne, aftershave products, laundry detergents, room fragrances.

2. Parabens

One of the oldest forms of modern cosmetic preservatives, parabens (any chemical that ends in “paraben”) have been used since the 1930s as a way to keep formulas free from bacteria, mold, and fungi. Parabens easily penetrate the skin and mimic or interfere with estrogen in the body and disrupt the endocrine system (responsible for hormone production).

Where to expect them:
Deodorant, antiperspirant, moisturizer, sunscreen, makeup, shampoo, fragranced products.

3. Synthetic Colors

Those bright, artificial colors found in thousands of products around the world have a dark side. These dyes are often made up from a variety of synthetic chemicals with many made from coal tar, and some can contain heavy metal salts like lead—not so pretty after all.

Where to expect them:
Makeup, toothpaste, nail polish, hair dyes, tanning spray, medications, bath towels, bed linens, shoes, carpets, and thousands of foods.

4. SLS

Sulfate-based ingredients (SLS or SLES) are added to products to create a lather or bubbles and remove dirt and oils from skin and hair. The biggest issue with sulfates is that they can cause varying levels of skin and eye irritation, which can get worse the longer the product is in contact with the skin.

Where to expect it:
Toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, hand soap, hair color products.

5. Formaldehyde

Think back to biology class—do you remember that liquid in the jar you used preserve the frog you dissected? That liquid was formaldehyde—when its vapor is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 ppm, some people experience watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, wheezing, nausea, and skin irritation.

Where to expect it:
Mattresses and pillows, bed sheets, furniture, air fresheners, clothing, laundry detergent, nail polish and remover, hair straightening treatments.

6. Phthalates

Phthalates make plastics more flexible—colourless and odorless, they soften the vinyl floors of kitchens and bathrooms and put the flex in our shower curtains. Unfortunately, phthalates have been linked to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, obesity, and type II diabetes.

    Where to expect them:
    Cosmetics and personal care products, plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, raincoats, food packaging and wraps, detergents.

    7. BPA

    BPA is used to coat the inside of metal products—when BPA containers are made, not all of the BPA gets sealed into the product, allowing part of it to break free and mix with the container's contents once food or fluids are added. Due to its estrogen-like shape, BPA can influence bodily processes, such as growth, cell repair, fetal development, energy levels, and reproduction.

      Where to expect them:
      Items packaged in plastic containers, canned foods, feminine hygiene products, baby bottles,  thermal printer receipts, household electronics, sports equipment, and dental filling sealants.

      8. Tricolson

      Triclosan is used as an antibacterial agent as well as a preservative to resist bacteria, fungus, mildew, and odors in household products often advertised as “anti-bacterial.” Triclosan can pass through the skin and is suspected of interfering with hormone function (endocrine disruption).

      Where to expect them:
      Deodorants, cleansers, hand sanitizers, laundry detergent, facial tissues, garbage bags, toys, linens, mattresses, toilet fixtures, clothing, furniture fabric, and paints.

      9. Toluene

      You know that strong smell you find in paint thinners? That’s toluene—often listed as “benzene”, “phenylmethane”, and “methylbenzene”—these are petrochemicals derived from petroleum or coal/tar sources that wreak havoc on the immune system.

        Where to expect them:
        Spray paints, primers, multipurpose cleaners, paint thinners, bathmats, wood sealers, coloring pens, and markers.

        10. Propylene Glycol

        Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol that packs a punch, it’s used as a skin-conditioning agent and is classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. Its damaging health effects (which include hives and dermatitis) can be caused by propylene glycol levels as low as 2 percent.

        Where to expect them:
        Moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays.

        It can feel almost impossible to shop for products without feeling bewildered about all the ingredients inside them. And while there are many toxic ingredients to avoid in addition to those mentioned here, don’t feel discouraged—every bit of reduction in exposure helps. If you continue to chip away at “crowding out” the chemicals with healthy lifestyle choices, they will go a long way to building your body’s ability to cope and strengthen along the way.

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