Don’t you know that you’re toxic?

Miss Britney Spears hit the nail on the head with that question. I don’t think she was talking about cosmetics, but she could have been since more and more research shows that many common personal care products are full of chemicals. When we put these products on our skin the chemicals are absorbed.

This article acknowledges that most people choose to believe that the amount of chemicals found in personal care products won’t harm them. But then they remind us that’s what the tobacco industry used to have us thinking about cigarettes. My favorite paragraph:

“Much like the tobacco industry, which denied for years the mounting body of evidence that smoking caused cancer and emphysema, the global $300 billion cosmetics industry argues that toxic ingredients are absorbed in such small amounts they have no dangerous effect. Yet added to the host of other toxins to which we are exposed and multiplied by repeated use of those products we use daily, even trace amounts can add up fast, experts say.”


They found the average woman comes into contact with 168 different chemicals a day from her personal care products, while the average guy meets 85. Not only are there alarmingly few regulations for these products (the European Union has banned over 1,000 ingredients from personal care products while the U.S. has banned 10) but many of the most dangerous chemicals aren’t listed because they form when two ingredients in the product mix.

I urge you to skim over the full article, as it is pretty eye-opening. It includes a list of ingredients to avoid including parabens, synthetic fragrances (found in nearly every mainstream product), DEAs (Diethanolamine), and Sodium Laurel or Laureth Sulphate often found in shampoos. Or there’s this article that also points out how the FDA allows ingredients–even if they’re listed as a toxic waste chemical by the EPA–to be put into shampoos.

While not a perfect solution since not all products are listed, this database from the Environmental Working Group gives products a rating from 0 to 10 with anything 3 or above being cause for alarm. Educate yourself and see if your favorite brand passes the test. (Sneak Peek: Herbal Essences Shampoos rate between 4-6, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo = 5, Redken Shampoos rate between 5-10.)

Do you believe that the chemicals in the products we use can add up and are contributing to the high levels of allergies, diseases, and cancers that are sadly so common? I’d rather play it safe where I can. And swapping out one brand of shampoo or deodorant for another is definitely something I can handle.

Britney image from here. Tobacco cartoon from here. Shampoo pic from here. Skin Deep logo from here.

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