Are your personal care products making you sick?

A six-month study on personal care products, found in the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) database, revealed that the average adult uses nine personal care products each day that contain over 126 different chemicals. Few people realize that putting chemicals on the skin can sometimes be worse than ingesting them. When chemicals are put directly on the skin, they are carried via the bloodstream to the organs. When you ingest something orally, your saliva and enzymes work to break compounds down and act as a type of filtering system. Since there are no enzymes to break chemicals down when they are applied topically, there is a higher risk of toxic buildup over time. Although there are many dangerous chemicals found on the market, three very commonly used  chemicals to be on the lookout for are sulfates, phthalates, and parabens. I have provided a brief description of each below, as well as where they are commonly found, and their known dangers. I hope that this information enables you to make better informed choices the next time you shop.


1) Sulfates-Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate (SLS or SLES) and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS)

• Used as surfactants, detergents, and emulsifiers in thousands of cosmetic products and cleaners.
• Found in shampoos, toothpastes, body wash, cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, and more
Research studies have found links to:
• Irritation of skin and eyes
• Organ toxicity
• Developmental and reproductive toxicity
• Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and cellular changes
• Possible mutations and cancer
For more information, visit the SLS page on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) website.

2) Phthalates

• Also called “plasticizers”
• Group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible, resilient, or as solvents
• Found in shampoo, body wash, cleansers, make-up, hair spray, nail polish, detergents, and more
• US Congress has already passed legislation to ban six phthalates from cosmetics and in children’s toys
Research studies have found links to:
• Endocrine disruption (especially harmful in childhood, pregnancy, and breastfeeding)
• Possible reproductive and developmental harm, organ damage, immune suppression, and cancer

3) Parabens

• Chemical preservatives heated to high levels to increase shelf life
• Found in cosmetics, shampoo, soaps, toothpaste, sunscreen, deodorant, eye drops and more (even food products such
as salad dressing, mayonnaise, soft drinks, jelly, baked goods, etc.)
Research studies have shown these links:
• The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found parabens cause questionable estrogen activity in the human body
• A British study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology found parabens in the tumors of women with breast cancer