Toxic ingredients hide in your skin care products. About 60% of them make their way into your blood and organs.1 That’s bad enough. But then consider…
The average American woman uses 12 products every morning.2 But that doesn’t mean men aren’t at risk. Most store brands pour toxins into their shaving, hair, and body products. And nobody is regulating any of it. So it’s up to you to read ingredients and know what to avoid to protect your health.
Here are five body care products hiding deadly chemicals:
1. SPF Suntan Lotion: Vitamin A—retinyl palmitate—speeds the spread of skin cancer when you apply it topically. And it’s in about 40% of sunscreens. The vitamin reacts safely in foods and many supplements. But it creates lesions and tumors when you apply it to your skin.3 To be safe, you should avoid retinyl palmitate in all skin and lip products.4
Wear a hat or carry an umbrella instead. Cover your body with light fabric. Limit your outdoor activity when the sun is strong. Health food stores sell safer sun protection products. Choose a mineral blocker with zinc or titanium oxide. They can help protect against UVA rays. But they still let your body make vitamin D3 from sunlight.
2. Deodorants: Parabens are toxic preservatives. Manufacturers add them to products you use from head to toe. Deodorants and antiperspirants present the most danger. Parabens mimic estrogen. They settle in breast tissue. Methyl and isobutyl parabens create a wide range of disorders and cancers.5 Isobutyl parabens can collect in the rest of your body. They can cause reproductive harm—and developmental disorders.6
Look for a deodorant that doesn’t contain these harmful additives. Or you can take it a step further and find a natural deodorant. They rely on ingredients like sage and lemon oils instead of synthetic scents and chemicals. You can find them in most health stores and online.
3. Baby Lotion: Scientists found high levels of phthalates in the urine of babies whose parents rubbed baby lotion on their skin. They also found decreased testosterone levels in baby boys. Congress banned the use of some phthalates. But the rules still aren’t strict enough.7 Since the chemical isn’t always listed, look for products with labels that say “no phthalates” or “phthalate-free.”
The fewer ingredients you put on your body (and your baby) the better. Try softening your skin with almond, avocado, or coconut oils. Drinking more water will also help hydrate your body from the inside.
4. Nail Polish: Toluene is a flammable substance. It is used as paint thinner. It impairs breathing. The State of California lists it as a chemical that causes birth defects.8 It can also damage your immune system.
When you go to a salon, you might see some workers wearing masks. Ask for one. Or shop for safer polish at a health food store. Better yet, skip the polish… Especially if you’re pregnant.
5. Hair Straighteners: Many hair-straightening products use formaldehyde. Just a few years ago the FDA warned the Brazilian Blowout hair company about its products. They contained dangerous levels of this chemical. Enough to damage the eyes, nervous system, and lungs of hairdressers—and their customers .9 Formaldehyde causes cancer in humans.10 Product manufacturers use the chemical as a preservative.11 Yet the International Agency for Research on Cancer officially classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.12
When you eat toxic foods, your digestive system helps break down the chemicals. But when your skin absorbs poisonous ingredients, your body stores it.13 Always read the labels on cosmetics—or any other body care products you buy.
It’s also a good idea to know who makes the products you use on your body. You trust these companies with your health. Try visiting the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to find safer products.
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