If there is one thing that vegans know how to do well, it’s read labels. While we always check our product labels to make sure they don’t contain any gross animal by-products or have been tested on animals, do we look any further than that? Is the vegan stamp of approval good enough or should we question the long term health effects of every last product we use?
The beauty industry is completely unregulated. That means that any company can put anything they want in the products you slather all over your body every single day. Scary? It is. These toxic ingredients range from proven endocrine disruptors (they attach to your estrogen receptors and disrupt your own estrogen from working naturally in your body) to neurotoxins (are toxic to brain and nervous system) to carcinogens (cause cancer) to ingredients directly linked to causing cancer and birth defects.
Here are just a few of the toxic ingredients found in items you use everyday like shampoo, soap, lip balm, lotions, sunscreen, and toothpaste.
- Propylene Glycol: Used in anti-freeze and found in make-up, lotion, deodorant, sunscreen, and shampoo. Causes skin irritation. Is a carcinogen. It is also an endocrine disruptor and a neurotoxin.
- Parabens (Butyl, Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl): Found in toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, styling products, lotion and many others. Parabens are endocrine disruptors and Neurotoxins as well.
- Titanium Dioxide: Is an effective window cleaner because it degrades anything it touches. Toxic to respiratory and immune system. Linked to cancer, asthma, allergies, and organ toxicity. Found in sunscreens. Titanium Dioxide is the main ingredient in most mineral makeups which are often tagged “natural”. These nanoparticles are more dangerous than the liquid form because they can be inhaled directly into your lungs.
- Zinc Oxide: Mutates skin cells, and is an endocrine disrupter. Found in sunscreens and is also a main ingredient in mineral makeups.
- Aluminum: Toxic heavy metal. Neurotoxin. Linked with cancer.
- Toluene: Made from tar. Found in fragrances and nail polish. Causes organ damage.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS): Chemists use SLS to split cells open labs. We put it on our heads in via shampoos and toothpastes! Also found in bubble bath solution and mascara. It is a very strong skin irritant.
- Petrolatum, Paraffin, Mineral Oil: Found in lip balms and lotions. These ingredients interfere with your body’s own natural moisturizing mechanism. Ever wonder why your lips are mysteriously addicted to lip balm? This would be why.
- Phthalates: A plasticizing ingredient directly linked to birth defects. Found in nail polish, and cuticle treatments. Toxic to the environment, respiratory system, immune system, nervous system.
- Flouride: Found in toothpaste, mouthwash, breath fresheners. Is a neurotoxin, toxic to
organs, aids tumor formation, endocrine disruptor.
- Artificial Fragrances: Can cause asthma. Found in perfumes, lotions, shampoo.
- Diethanolamin (DEA or TEA): Causes allergies, skin irritation, and toxic to immune system. Found in sunscreen, moisturizers, foundation, hand cream, soap.
Many people will argue that products containing these toxic ingredients (and oh so many more) are safe because the harmful effects only occur in large quantities. However it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that if you are using products that contain certain ingredients for years, that the toxins can and will build up in your system. Some faster than others. But regardless of that, why take the risk? Why not just live as healthy as you can without all the added chemicals?
Do not be fooled by products labeled as “natural”, “organic” or “green”. Don’t assume that products carried in a health store are automatically healthy for you. Be sure to read labels closely. Here are some tips for choosing safe products:
- Make sure the ingredient list is short and easy to understand. The ability to pronounce ingredients is a plus.
- Handmade items, and products made by smaller companies usually contain less harmful ingredients.
- If its a popular brand, its probably full of crap.
- Educate yourself about toxic ingredients in everything we use and consume.
I leave you with some resources to help you learn more about the products you use everyday.
Environmental Working Group – Learn about this fascinating group that is working hard to spread information and to bring about a change in the cosmetics industry.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – Incredibly informative and up to date information.
Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry