The hidden toxins in your bathroom cabinet and how to avoid them

Part two 'on'

Following on from part one of this blog series, in part two we tackle the hidden toxins we use ON our body. These toxins are dressed up and put in products that ‘help’ you achieve particular results. The problem is, what we put on our skin affects us in ways you not may realise. Our skin is the largest organ of our body; one of its roles is to protect us from the many toxins in our environment. However, it is also permeable, meaning it absorbs everything it comes into contact with, which ends up in our blood stream(1). An average woman's 'getting ready' routine exposes her body to 515 different synthetic chemicals every single day(2). Think about it, do you really know what you wash your hair and face with? Do you know what's in your moisturiser, make-up or perfume? Read on to learn about some toxins you may be lathering, spraying and brushing on yourself.

1. Parabens are used in many cosmetic products including moisturisers and lotions, and are commonly used in the armpit and breast area. Paraben containing products have been known to cause allergic responses. They are also a significant source of hormone disrupting chemicals, which may be linked to breast cancer in women(3). One study even detected parabens in breast tumours(4). This nasty effect on hormones not only affects the adult, but if pregnant, could impact foetus development(3).

2. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is used in thousands of cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners (yikes!). SLS is in hair shampoos, treatments and colours, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundation, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents and bath oils and salts. SLES and ALS are related and should also be avoided(5). High level exposure to SLS is toxic to our organs, development and reproductive and nervous systems. It also negatively affects our hormones and is possibly linked to some cancers(6). Cosmetic use may cause dermatitis and irritation to the skin and eyes(7). The real concern is that there is a lack of long-term studies on ALL of the chemicals in these products, so we don't really know what the long-term effects are(8).

3. The ethanolamine chemical group can be listed on the product label as DEA, TEA and MEA(9,10). DEA can cause skin and eye irritation and high exposure has been linked to liver cancers and precancerous changes in the skin and thyroid. The European Union classifies DEA as harmful due to the danger of serious damage to health from prolonged exposure. DEA can also react with other cosmetic chemicals which changes it to a cancer causing agent(11)

4. Triclosan is used in personal care products such as toothpaste, deodorant and soap. New studies have linked it to heart disease, heart failure(12) and thyroid hormone disruption(13,14). When Triclosan was first registered in 1969 it was registered as a pesticide! In fact, today it is still registered as a pesticide and it is also widely used for industrial uses(15).

5. Talc (magnesium trisilicate) is found in thousands of toiletries ranging from make-up cosmetics to antiperspirants and deodorants. Using talc as little as once a week raises a woman's risk of ovarian cancer. This risk is increased when used daily(16), and even more so when used regularly on external genital areas(17,18). Serious lung damage and cancer have been reported amongst talc manufacturing workers, and for this reason you should not use talc on babies. It can cause serious breathing complications, convulsions and even death(19). You can read about just one lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson here.

6. Mineral oil is made from petroleum, the same stuff you put in your car's engine. Many products use mineral oil, as it allows lotions to be spread easily across your skin. This is despite the fact that it's a known cancer causing agent! Mineral oil also blocks your pores to cause blackheads and pimples. This is because it creates a film on your skin that stops your skin's natural breathing process(20,21). Studies have found that mineral oil affects more than just your skin, samples of fat and breast milk were found to be contaminated with mineral oil. This result is likely from a build up over time from repeated exposure from cosmetics(22)

7. “Fragrance” or “parfum” actually represents a secret cocktail recipe potentially made up of hundreds of synthetic chemicals(23). These chemicals are selected from a pool of 5,000 ingredients(24), none of which have to be disclosed or tested for safety(25). Fragrances are in everything, the list is endless from the obvious deodorants and perfumes to moisturisers, hair products and anti-wrinkle creams (26). “Fragrance” contains hormone disruptors called phthalates(27), which was discussed in part one.  Fragrances commonly cause allergic reactions which can cause skin sensitivity, dermatitis, asthma attacks and migraines(28).

8. Formaldehyde is used in nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap and wash and colour cosmetics(29). It is a known human cancer causing agent, with high exposure linked to some types of cancers(30,31). It can also cause allergic skin reactions and rashes(29)

Tips to clean up your bathroom cabinet

  • Read the label and know what you are talking about. Be savvy with what you are being sold. For example, if you want to buy pure rose hip oil and you turn the label over to see 10 ingredients listed = RED FLAG.
  • Ditch the perfume! A better alternative is using certified organic essential (not mineral) oil. You could even try applying no scent at all.
  • Make your way over to mineral make-up. Once again, the word natural in marketing doesn't mean a great deal, so read the label. 
  • Use certified organic products and not just organic products. There is a big difference!
  • Reduce the number of cosmetics in your daily routine. Do you really need 25 products to make-up your face when you plan to go do the groceries?
  • Have make up free days when possible and let your skin breath!

Next week we will be giving you our favourite toxin free, absolute must-have beauty products!