Hazardous Chemicals in Personal Care Products

Hazardous Chemicals in Personal Care Products

Over the past few years, and especially while I was pregnant, I took an interest in finding out what some of those unfamiliar ingredients in personal care products were, and if they were really safe to be using. It turns out that there are a few more things in the house that ought to have a hazardous symbol on them.

Lotion is something that both Holden and I use, so I’m going to pick on that as an example. Most commercially available lotions use ingredients that can contribute to some unpleasant health conditions. Here are two ingredients that are easy to spot, and important to avoid:

1) Parabens -(e.g., methyl-paraben) Used as preservatives, these chemicals are known endocrine disrupters, can mimic estrogen in the body, and have been linked to breast cancer.

2) Glycols -(e.g., propylene glycol) Very common in lotions as a surfactant, also the active ingredient in antifreeze. Known to cause brain, liver and kidney damage.

Although using one bottle of lotion containing one of these ingredients is not likely to damage your liver forever or create a tumor, repeated exposure over your life-time is not ideal. Parabens have been proven to build up in fatty tissue over time with repeated use. For a great eight minute video on the issue, look up “The Story of Cosmetics” on YouTube.

There has been enough bad press and consumer demand, that good ‘ol J&J has created a new line of baby products without these ingredients. Their standard baby lotion lists propylene glycol as the second ingredient; their new ‘Natural’ version does not, and is paraben-free as well.

At the very least, it is worth making an informed decision when you do decide to buy a personal care product. Green Beaver, one of my favourite Canadian companies, has a great list of all of the ingredients they don’t use, and why. See www. greenbeaver.com.

Better yet, consider using ‘single ingredient’ products, like coconut or almond oil. You know what’s in them, and they can be used in more than one way. Coconut oil is great on skin, and in baking!

Feel like joining the movement to change the products we buy? Visit www.safecosmetics.org.