Choosing safe products can be a daunting task without
proper knowledge and tools. Many product packages are deceptively
designed to make you believe that the product inside the package is
herbal, all natural, safe and gentle, when in fact the product contains
little or no natural or herbal ingredients, is contaminated with
carcinogens and is irritating to the skin. This is the case because of
the lack of regulation in the cosmetic and personal care product
industry. But armed with a little knowledge and some helpful tools,
there is much you can do to protect yourself.
Here are ten things you can do to make safer and
healthier choices when selecting your toiletries.
Read the ingredients on the label.
The packaging may say such things as natural, herbal or hypoallergenic.
This has nothing to do with what's really in the product or how safe it
is. Manufacturers make a lot of claims on the package to "sell" the
product. They can do this because some of the terms don't have official
definitions and they can use them however they want. To really find out
what's in a product, you must read the ingredients in the small print,
you know, the ones that you sometimes need a magnifying glass to be
able to see.
Interpret and understand the ingredients.
Once you find the ingredients, you have to be able to know what they
are and if they are safe, harmful, questionable or untested. A great
many ingredients have chemical names that only a cosmetic chemist would
understand. However, you don't have to be a cosmetic chemist. The book,
Dying To Look Good, makes it easy for you to choose products with safe
and healthy ingredients.
Choose products without parabens.
Parabens are xenoestrogens or endocrine disrupters. They disturb the
hormone balance in your body. They are also skin sensitizers and have
the potential to cause allergic reactions. They have been found in
breast cancer tumors, but it is not known if they cause breast cancer.
Stay away from products containing amines.
Chemicals that fall into the category of amines can combine with
nitrosating agents to form nitrosamines, which cause cancer.
Nitrosamines are formed during the manufacturing process when an amine
combines with a formaldehyde-releasing preservative. Some of the amines
commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products are Cocamide MEA,
Cocamide DEA, TEA, sodium lauroyal sarcosinate and amino methyl
propanol. Several of the formaldehyde-releasing preservatives include
sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin and
Steer clear of products containing talc.
Talc is found in talcum powder, baby powder and makeup. It is a
carcinogen if it contains asbestiform fibers. The quantity of
asbestiform fibers in cosmetic-grade talc is unregulated in the U.S.
Some research suggests a link between talc and ovarian cancer.
Be cautious about products that contain
Manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients used in
frgrances. A single fragrance may contain hundreds of different
chemicals. Some of the chemicals used in fragrances are hazardous, such
as benzyl chloride, methyl ethyl ketone, methylene chloride, toluene
and phthalates. Fragrances may also contain chemicals that cause
cancer. Even products listed as fragrance free may have fragrance added
to mask offensive odors.
Avoid D&C and FD&C Colors.
Most D&C and FD&C colors are derived from coal tar
which is a
carcinogen. Most coal tar colors are potential carcinogens, may contain
carcinogenic contaminants and cause allergic reactions. These colors
must be certified by the FDA to contain not more than 20 ppm of lead
and arsenic, but the certification does not address any other harmful
effects these colors may have on the body.
Beware of products containing chemical
Chemical preservatives can be irritating and are the number one cause
of contact dermatitis. Some preservatives you should watch
for are benzethonium chloride, BHA, BHT, diazolidinyl urea,
imidazolidinyl urea, phenoxyethanol and methylisothiazolinone.
Watch out for "and other ingredients."
This means there are one or more ingredients that the manufacturer
considers a trade secret and does not want to list on the label. There
is no way of knowing if these ingredients are safe or not.
Be wary of products with long lists of
Many of the chemicals used in cosmetics and personal care products have
not been tested or have not been adequately tested. Even those that
have been tested have only been tested individually, not in combination
with other ingredients. Nobody knows the effects of the many different
ingredients used in thousands of different combinations, the effects of
using numerous different products, one on top of the other, or the
effects of repeated use of ingredients or products over time.
Become a label reader and learn how to decipher the
ingredients for safety. It's easy with the help of Dying
To Look Good.