Ever thought about doing a detox for your daily grooming/beauty routine – or for your kids’ basic soap, lotion or sunscreen? Wonder what chemicals are most important to avoid? One group of chemicals that a lot of scientists and doctors recommend we steer clear of are the hormone disruptors, chemicals known to mess with our hormones and reproductive systems. Topping the list of hormone-disrupting chemicals to stay away from: parabens, oxybenzone, and phthalates. Cleaning up your makeup bag and medicine cabinets is a great way to keep yourself and your family healthier.
1. Old-school favorites may be stealth-screwing with your health. Some of the products we think of as classic staples might be better seen as unhealthy relics of the past. Looking at a few of the commonly-used products that have been fixtures on our own bathroom counters, the results were not good. Everyone’s beloved Cetaphil Cleanser is made with parabens, a un-favorite preservative. Lubriderm’s Advanced Therapy Lotion also has parabens in it (3 different ones). Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray uses the most concerning of the chemical sunscreens, oxybenzone. Phthalates are extra tricky to dodge since they aren’t even listed on labels – they’re often part of the synthetic fragrance ingredient. Serious nasties are probably hiding in plain sight right on your bathroom counter or in your shower. Studies found phthalates in almost 75% of one group of personal care products tested, and parabens in almost 60%. Oxybenzone was in 65% of the sunscreens.
2. You can give up your side job as a lab rat. Without realizing it, we’re doing product safety testing by experimenting on ourselves. Women uses an average of 12 different personal care products a day, teen girls an estimated 17. Chemicals we lather on and slather on ourselves, absorb into our bodies and get into our bloodstreams. But product ingredients do not have to be safety-tested before hitting the shelves. Professor Tracey Woodruff @ UCSF Medical School plainly explained: “One myth about chemicals is that the U.S. government makes sure they’re safe before they go on the marketplace…We should not have to use the public as guinea pigs.”
3. No one’s minding the store. The US has an almost anything-goes approach to regulating personal care products. Our main product safety laws were made back in 1938. The handheld calculator, the Pill, Prozac – even cake mix – are more recent inventions. With around 2,000 new chemicals introduced into use every year, our laws are extremely outdated. Some members of Congress (including our own California Senator Dianne Feinstein) realize we’ve got a problem, and last year proposed legislation to make things safer. No new laws on the books yet, though, so we still need to stay on top of things and watch out for ourselves. Avoiding known offenders and using more plant-based ingredients can lighten your body’s load.
4. Super smart experts say certain personal care chemicals are bad news. Illnesses and issues linked to these chemicals include cancer, fertility trouble, obesity, diabetes, babies born with medical maladies. You’ll be right on track if you picture double headed sperm that don’t know how to swim, early-onset puberty, endometriosis, breast cancer, baby boys born with unusually formed sex organs and adult men with testicular cancer. A few of the well-respected organizations that have spoken out about the problems with these chemicals include the President’s Cancer Panel, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, The Endocrine Society, and the March of Dimes (the nonprofit devoted to health of moms & babies).
5. You’re the mom. You’re probably the lone soul looking out for your family’s health. You’ve said or thought “better safe than sorry” so many times you’re sick of yourself. Why stop now? Avoiding toxic chemicals where we can, in our homes, and on our bodies is a cautious, common sense way to go. People wanting to conceive, pregnant moms-to-be, developing babies, children and teens are all especially vulnerable to the hormone-disrupting chemicals often in conventional products – so we really want to make sure moms have this on their radar. Be a good role model. Stand with science. Show off to your kids how on the ball you are. Let’s make these toxic chemicals known to our kids as the health hazards they are.
Detox your personal care cache, and you can keep all kinds of nasties out of your bathroom products, off your skin, and really cut down your body’s exposure to toxic chemicals. Nontoxic is safer. The right plant-based products give your skin valuable nutrients and vitamins that the chemical-soaked stuff never can. Get ready for new, better, beautiful.
Kim Nguyen and Margot Hawley are two skincare-obsessed Palo Alto moms working to spread the word about healthy personal care products, and the founders of beginswithskin.com, their antidote to the unruly world of skin care shopping. They take the mystery and confusion out of finding the right natural skin care products for your skin type by doing all the research and testing so you don’t have to.