Shampooing with Antifreeze?
When I started on my journey to be healthier and eliminate toxins from my life, I began to read labels. Food labels, cleaning supply labels and personal care labels. I had no idea that shampoo, toothpaste, skin cleansers, hair conditioner, hand lotions, perfumes, deodorant, lip balm, baby oil…the personal care items I used everyday were full of harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals.
My eyes glazed over when I read their ingredients: sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium citrate, imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin, titanium dioxide, cocamidopropyl betaine, isopropyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol. Yours will too. Did you know...
Isopropyl Alcohol: Isopropyl alcohol is found in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotions, after-shave lotions, fragrances and many other cosmetics. This petroleum-derived substance is also used in antifreeze and as a solvent in shellac. According to Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, inhalation or ingestion of the vapor may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting and coma.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Used as detergents and surfactants, these closely related compounds are found in car wash soaps, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. Yet both SLS and SLES are used more widely as one of the major ingredients in cosmetics, toothpastes, hair conditioner and about 90% of all shampoos and products that foam. Mark Fearer, in an article Dangerous Beauty remarks "...in tests, animals that were exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, along with depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and corrosion and death." According to the American College of Toxicology: "...both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children's eyes. It is possibly the most dangerous of all ingredients in personal care products. Research has shown that SLS when combined with other chemicals can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens, which causes the body to absorb nitrates at higher levels than eating nitrate-contaminated food." According to the American College of Toxicology report, "SLS stays in the body for up to five days...Other studies have indicated that SLS easily penetrates through the skin and enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain. This poses serious questions regarding its potential health threat through its use in shampoos, cleansers and toothpaste."
Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin: These are two of the many preservatives that release formaldehyde (formaldehyde-donors). According to the Mayo Clinic, formaldehyde can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin reactions and trigger heart palpitations. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness and loss of sleep. It can irritate coughs and colds and trigger asthma. Serious side effects include weakening of the immune system and cancer. Nearly all brands of skin, body and hair care, antiperspirants and nail polish found in stores contain formaldehyde-releasing ingredients.
PEG: This is an abbreviation for polyethylene glycol that is used in making cleansers to dissolve oil and grease as well as thicken products. Because of their effectiveness, PEG's are often used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners and yet are found in many personal care products. PEG's contribute to stripping the Natural Moisture Factor, leaving the immune system vulnerable. They are also potentially carcinogenic.
Propylene Glycol (PG): As a 'surfactant' or wetting agent and solvent, this ingredient is the active component in antifreeze. There is no difference between the PG used in industry and the PG used in personal care products. It is used in industry to break down protein and cellular structure (what the skin is made of) yet is found in most forms of make-up, hair products, lotions, after-shaves, deodorants, mouthwashes and toothpastes. It is also used in food processing. Because of its ability to quickly penetrate the skin, the EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with this toxic substance. The Material Safety Data Sheets warn against skin contact, as PG has systemic consequences such as brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. Consumers are not protected nor is there a warning label on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than that in most industrial applications.
Why do we need to put antifreeze in our shampoos?
Why does toothpaste have a warning label about it being harmful if swallowed?
Do I need to risk my personal health to practice good hygiene?
When did getting clean and beautiful get so chemical?
For expert information on how I could protect myself, I turned to Harvard’s School of Public Health: Harmful, untested chemicals rife in personal care products. While the direct connection between putting these harsh chemicals on our bodies and causing disease isn’t conclusive, I decided that I won’t use them if there are safer products that work just as well. Now I just needed to find these safe personal care products.
I turned our extra bathroom into a laboratory and started my research. After exploring Skin Deep, a respected resource database from Environmental Working Group, I learned which brands had the least harmful scores and brought them into my little lab. Then I tested and tested and eventually discovered new brands which were effective and healthier for my body.
More to come on my laboratory results and these fabulous natural brands in future posts. Meanwhile, I encourage you to share the natural brands you love and please tell me if my natural deodorant isn’t as effective as I think it is.