7 Things You Need to Know About Chemicals in Beauty Products (for Men and Women)

Blog Lifestyle 7 Things You Need to Know About Chemicals in Beauty Products (for Men and Women)

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11.16.2020 0 comments

Not everything in your beauty products is there to make you beautiful!

In fact, you’ll find that a lot of the ingredients in your products are simply there to maintain the product’s freshness or extend its lifespan. Worse, some of these ingredients can actually be very damaging for your health!

We all know that our health and beauty products are made with chemicals, but finding out exactly what chemicals they contain is important to ensure your wellbeing.

Here is a list of some of the worst chemicals that you’ll find in a surprisingly number of health and beauty products, including in your own home:

Triclosan – Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical that is used to prevent bacteria from spoiling health and beauty products. Unfortunately, it’s also a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it can negatively affect your reproductive hormones and thyroid. It’s also known to be a skin irritant. One study [1] raised concerns that it might lead to antibiotic resistance in bacteria as well.

Triclosan has been banned by the FDA, but only in liquid hand soaps. You can still find triclosan being used in a number of products around your house, including mouth washes, antibacterial soaps, deodorants for both men and women, and even toothpaste.

Parabens – A surprising number of products include parabens, thanks to the fact that they are incredibly effective as a preservative. Parabens are added into health and beauty products for the express purpose of combating mold, yeast, and bacterial growths, preserving the cosmetics for longer. They’re also used in shaving creams, moisturizers, and shampoos.

Parabens can mimic estrogen in the human body, and it has been linked [2] to higher instances of estrogen-dependent breast cancer. It’s possible that parabens can actually activate hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, though further research is needed to determine the precise danger of parabens.

Experts agree, however, that parabens should be avoided. Look for any of the following in the list of ingredients to avoid:

  • Methylparaben

  • Propylparaben

  • Ethylparaben

  • Butylparaben

Phthalates – Phthalates are also considered endocrine-disrupting chemicals due to their ability to mimic human hormones. One study from Mexico [3] linked phthalates to higher instances of breast cancer, as well as reproductive birth defects and early breast development in girls.

The problem with phthalates is that they’re far more commonly used than most people realize. Because they’re typically added to fragrances, they’re not always disclosed on the list of ingredients.

Phthalates are commonly found in a wide range of products, including hair spray, lotion, perfumes, colognes, deodorants, and moisturizers. Look for ingredients like dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, and dimethyl phthalate, as these are all phthalate ingredients.

“Fragrance” – You’ll often find this ingredient listed on your health and beauty product, but with no explanation of which fragrant or what exactly was used to create the fragrance. Originally, this term was intended to protect whatever secret formula companies used to generate the fragrance of their products. Now, however, it’s more likely that manufacturers are hiding potentially dangerous ingredients under this “catch-all” term.

The Environmental Working Group lists fragrance mixes as potentially dangerous in its Skin Deep Database [4], due to the fact that “fragrances” have been linked to dermatitis, allergic reactions, respiratory problems (including respiratory distress), and potential negative side effects for human reproductive systems, both male and female. Any product that lists “fragrance” in its ingredients—including shampoos, body washes, conditioners, colognes, perfumes, and moisturizers—should be avoided.

Coal Tar – You don’t even really need an explanation of why this is bad; the name alone already sounds pretty nasty! Coal tar has been known to cause skin irritation, and it has been linked to a number of eye-related health problems, including (in extreme cases) blindness.

And yet, it’s still used in a number of hair dyes and shampoos for both men and women. Definitely an ingredient you want to avoid!

Toluene – Toluene is a name many men will recognize: it’s what’s used in your paints and paint thinners. Toluene is an incredibly potent solvent that is strong enough to dissolve paint. Its potency makes it a chemical ideally suited for nail polish removers, nail treatments, and products used to color and bleach hair (for both men and women).

Of course, anything potent enough to dissolve paint is going to cause some pretty nasty side effects in the human body! Toluene can cause nausea, negatively affect your respiratory system, and even trigger skin irritation. Pregnant mothers are recommended to avoid exposure to even toluene vapors due to the fact that it can potentially damage the fetus [5]. Its toxic effects can also be detrimental to your immune system, meaning it’s definitely in your best interest to avoid any products that contain toluene!

Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde (and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives) are potent chemicals used to preserve products and prevent the growth of bacteria. In case you didn’t know, modern day embalming fluid used to preserve corpses contains formaldehyde in high doses. As you can imagine, it’s an incredibly potent chemical preservative.

Of course, that potency also makes it dangerous to the living human body. The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens has labeled it a “human carcinogen” and classified it as hazardous to our health. It has been linked to both nasal and nasoesophygeal cancers, and is known to trigger allergic skin reactions. Some research even suggests that it’s harmful to our immune systems, potentially compromising our body’s ability to protect itself from pathogens and invading threats.

And yet, it’s still used in a surprising number of products, including body washes, conditioners, cleansers, shampoos, nail polish, nail polish treatments, and eyeshadow. It’s an ingredient you want to steer well clear of, so make sure to read the list of ingredients to know exactly what’s in the products you’re applying to your body!

Resources:

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16922622/

[2] https://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/cosmetics

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20368132

[4] http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/

[5] https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredients/706577-TOLUENE/#

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