Safe Personal Care
You Know it makes Sense – Common Sense
Scrutinising and checking labels is not an easy process for those of us who are not in the know. It's of little benefit to the consumer to be confronted with a list of complicated ingredients that is difficult to understand. It can be difficult to get to grips with incomprehensible labels typed in the smallest possible print and we automatically switch off to the information displayed right in front of us. When it comes to anti-ageing creams, most of us are dubious enough despite the slick miraculous marketing claims. Clever marketing also takes advantage by trying to reassure us with meaningless terms claiming that many products are ‘natural’, ‘organic’, and ‘hypo-allergenic’. It may at first seem reassuring to see these labels, but this untrustworthy language is misleading and often masks the truth behind these prettily packaged toiletries and cosmetics. Unfortunately most of us believe that these terms could not be used if they were not true, for example “hypo-allergenic” simply means the manufacturer feels it is the “less likely” to cause allergic reactions.
But here again there are ongoing opportunities to make large profits as these products often command a higher price. We believe that they have unique specific natural formulations that are of a superior quality than normal products. We have to remind ourselves again that where there are vested interests, responsibility for the consumer’s long-term health is not always on the agenda. There is no doubt that there are many questions to be answered about the safety of the ingredients in these everyday personal care products. The next few paragraphs will give you a starting point and may well convince you that you need to make informed choices when it comes to your personal care products.
Let's first have a look at some key information on the dangerous chemicals that exist in everyday personal care products;
Most of us would gasp at the thought that a product as familiar as toothpaste can contain harmful ingredients such as fluoride and sodium lauryl sulphate. If you take the time to check the precise ingredients on the average tube of toothpaste you may well decide you need to change your choice of products. We are well aware that children because of its sweet taste often swallow toothpaste. This sweetness is because some of these toothpastes contain the artificial sweetener saccharin, which is a known carcinogen (a cancer causing substance). When you consider the risks from this substance, surely it would be wiser to find a safer alternative.
The main offenders in commercial shampoos are the harsh synthetic detergents that are listed as sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium laureth sulphate. These irritating foaming agents are also found in toothpaste and children's bubble bath. Sodium lauryl sulphate is an aggressive cleaner that is the most reported common cause of eye irritations in commercial shampoos. It has a low molecular weight that is rapidly absorbed by the body and will readily penetrate the skin. When ingested it is more toxic than if it were taken intravenously. It is also retained in the eyes, brain, and liver - particularly in the eyes of the young - and its effect on the liver and brain are cumulative. Skin allergies, contact eczema, and cataracts (and also mouth ulcers in the case of toothpaste) are some of the risks we are exposing ourselves to when we use this harsh chemical.
What’s more is that it has been found to cause liver and skin cancer in animal studies. Sodium laureth sulphate is widely used in most children's shampoos, as it is somewhat milder. Sodium laureth sulphate can contain 1-4 dioxane (a potent toxin), which is a known carcinogen (a cancer causing substance). If you have concerns about these harmful chemicals in your shampoo and toothpaste, you may want to reduce your exposure to their harmful effects by becoming a selective shopper.
The main culprit found in antiperspirant deodorants is aluminium. Aluminium compounds are neurotoxic for humans and have a build up effect in the brain, liver and lungs. This is very evident when we look at the research into Alzheimer's disease, which found that large amounts of aluminium were contained in the brains of victim’s. The link with Alzheimer’s disease and aluminium compounds has been scientifically proven. When we use products that contain these harmful substances the liver must work harder to try to rid the body of them. These detrimental foreign substances can become entwined in DNA and can cause damage at a cellular level. Products containing aluminium compounds are listed as known or suspected carcinogens (Cornell Carcinogens Database). It should also be noted that cancer and osteoporosis are other dangers associated with these chemical cocktails.
The FDA advisory panel has called for the removal of these chemicals from antiperspirant deodorants. Many harmful substances that were considered safe to use in the past, had catastrophic side effects for humans and are now banned. So bear in mind that the invisible dangers contained in the products we are now exposing ourselves to may well become the banned substances of tomorrow. When it comes to antiperspirants my belief is that less is always best.
Many of us believe that our skin forms an effective barrier that will protect the body against harmful substances that can seep into systems. However this major organ is more than skin deep. If we look into the matter it is easy to see that the skin is not an effective barrier. In fact, our skin has the ability to defuse substances through the skin barrier. This is evident when we look at products such as nicotine patches that are used to ease withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine addiction. These trans-dermal delivery systems utilise the skin’s unique ability to transport these molecules into the bloodstream. In exactly the same way, harmful chemicals found in the skincare products can be absorbed and diffused across membranes, and can enter into the bloodstream.
Propylene glycol is a substance found in many skincare products, make-up, body lotion, baby wipes, and hair products. This substance is a strong skin irritant that many people have sensitivities towards; it may be a potential culprit if you are suffering from itchy or irritated skin. Propylene glycol prevents the evaporation of moisture, thus giving the skin a younger appearance. When we use this in skincare preparation, the outer layers of skin cells absorb more water this in turn makes the skin cells swell similar to the way a dried prune placed in water begins to swell.
This form of hydration may sound quite appealing at first, but you may not relish the thought quite so much when you consider that this substance is also found in paint, liquid laundry detergents, antifreeze, and brake fluid, it then soon begins to lose its appeal. Listed as a suspected neurotoxicity hazard by the EDF (Environmental Defence Fund). Propylene glycol can weaken the immune system and has been found to cause kidney damage and liver abnormalities. Safety data sheets supplied with this product when this chemical is used for industrial use, stipulate that the user must avoid skin contact. If you are encountering skin irritations you should try to break your dependence on the products that contain propylene glycol and adopt a new skincare regime.