Toxic Beauty Products
Every day we use products on our skin to cleanse and remove impurities. Face wash, deodorants, lotions, and other beauty products are big business. We count on them to keep us fresh, clean, and odor free. But turn that bottle over and read the ingredients of your favorite personal care products … you might be surprised by the toxins in plain sight on the label.
What are toxins anyway?
What do we mean when we say “toxins?” Well, a toxin is a substance that is harmful to the body once it accumulates in the tissue in certain levels. Heavy metals (read more here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) come to mind as a very easy example of a toxin. Once metals like lead accumulate in the body, they can cause damage at the cellular level, eventually leading to various health conditions, such as neurological impairment, developmental delays in children, digestive disorders, and even death.
This accumulation of harmful chemicals isn’t limited to certain metals either. From the air that we breathe to the food we eat and the furniture in our homes, we are daily exposed to harmful chemicals.
They come from sources like:
- New furniture and mattresses (outgassing)
- Food additives
- Beauty and personal care products.
- Children’s toys
The human body is actually designed to clear small amounts of toxins. We are built to restore and cleanse the cells in our bodies. The problem comes with the enormous amount of toxins to which we’re exposed from modern living and the standard American diet.
When we pay little attention to the massive levels of harmful chemicals that we are daily bombarded with, as many do, over time dangerous levels of accumulation in our cells can occur. Our cell membranes get damaged. Our cells then become severely impaired in their ability to eliminate the toxins and absorb necessary nutrients to maintain functionality. As this situation worsens, hormone regulation can become disrupted. Systemic inflammation in the body takes hold, and finally, chronic illness develops.
This link between chronic illness and cell toxicity is the reason we focus so much on detoxifying the cells of the body as an essential part of healing. It’s impossible to achieve amazing health without addressing toxin-laden cells. Game changing products like the IDS (Intracellular Detox System) and CytoDetox™ support the removal of toxins at the cellular level, where detoxification must happen to be effective and real.
Beauty Products and Toxic Ingredients
While working to detoxify the body and restore good cellular function, it’s important to do everything possible to minimize continued exposure to the very toxins you’re trying to shed. Adjustments to what you eat and your environment are often required, and this brings us back to those beauty products.
Beauty products and other personal care products are minimally regulated by the FDA, which takes an “it’s safe until evidence of harm is overwhelming” approach to the ingredients approved for use on the skin. The result is a beauty product industry loaded with products that contain harmful chemicals linked to various problems that will contribute to illness over time. Here are a few examples of ingredients to avoid like the plague.
Parabens are widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic industry. You’ll find them in shampoos, lotions, face cleansers, toners, body washes, and more. Parabens have been linked to hormone disruption, breast cancer, and low testosterone levels in men.
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Products that foam or get sudsy often owe these properties to sodium lauryl sulfate, a synthetic, organic chemical with the ability to absorb right into the skin. It’s a possible skin irritant, found in many toothpastes, shampoos, soaps, liquid cosmetics, and detergents. It should also be noted that the manufacturing process of sodium lauryl sulfate nearly always leads to it being contaminated by 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogen. Similar to parabens, this widely used emulsifier also has links to endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity. Long-term exposure may also contribute to neurotoxicity and organ toxicity.
PEG (polyethylene glycol)
Polyethylene glycols, also called PEG, are used as emollients or emulsifiers in cosmetics. They have been known to cause irritation for those with sensitive skin, but the real issue with PEG is its ability to act as a vehicle for enhancing absorption of other harmful ingredients into the skin. If the product contains other toxic ingredients, PEG can carry them along with it, driving them deeper into the skin, and increasing your body’s toxic burden.
Fragrances are an especially insidious ingredient, since it’s a catch-all term used for all manner of hidden chemicals, none of which have to be declared on the ingredient label. This includes phthalates, plasticizers that have been associated with endocrine disruption, cancer, and damage to lungs, kidneys, and liver. Phthalates are banned for use in the European Union, but legal to use in the U.S.A. in many beauty products.
Natural Beauty Product Alternatives
Now that we know what to avoid, let’s look at what we should use instead. Replacing your beauty products with safer, less toxic versions isn’t as hard as you might think. The best rule of thumb is to read EVERY label, and research any ingredient that you don’t recognize. Certified organic products tend to have fewer (if any) toxic ingredients, making them a good place to start your search for safer beauty product alternatives.
Watch out for misleading terms like “all natural” or “made with organic ingredients.” Natural as a beauty product term is nearly meaningless, and very over-used in the industry. Furthermore, a product only has to contain about 70% of certified organic ingredients for the manufacturer to be able to place “made with organic ingredients” on the label. The other 30% can be just about anything, including some of the harmful toxins mentioned earlier.
You can also try one of these easy, healthy substitutes.
Use raw honey as a face cleanser. Honey has antibacterial and humectant properties that make it a soothing, and effective face cleanser for all skin types. Simply wet your face, spread a small amount of honey directly onto your skin, and wipe off gently with a warm washcloth.
Coconut oil is a fantastic skin moisturizer. It absorbs easily, and is so good for your body inside and out. Look for cold-pressed, organic coconut oil. You can use it as a face moisturizer, but note that coconut oil sits in the middle of the comedogenic scale, potentially making it a bad choice for those with acne prone skin.
For a gentle, noncomedogenic (won’t clog pores) facial moisturizer, organic hemp seed oil is the way to go. It’s light, absorbs very easily, and is another oil that’s great for your body, inside and out. A little goes a long way when you use hemp seed oil as a face moisturizer. Remember to store hemp seed oil in the fridge.
Use your favorite essential oil as fragrance. Check out our 100% pure and certified organic line here.
Also, here’s a recipe to make homemade non-toxic “bath bombs.”
Whether you choose to make a few of your own beauty products, or find a reputable source to purchase from, remember to always go for safe ingredients. We live in a very toxic world. Considering the consequences of ignoring the burden of toxins your body carries (cellular damage, weight gain, ill health), there’s clearly no reason to voluntarily add more toxins into your life.