It's early morning and the shower is hot, soothing, relaxing. Reach for
the Pantene shampoo bottle and lather up; spread the fragrant soap all
over your head. Then comes the conditioner; it penetrates the hair shaft
and sends glossy shine all the way to the roots. Dove body wash is next,
filling the bathroom with a soft, sweet almond scent. The water streams
down, rinsing away all the dirt of the previous day. Step out of the
shower and grab a towel. Don�t forget the Coppertone sunscreen and the
Lubriderm lotion for total skin protection!
By this point, you have now exposed your body to 24 toxic chemicals.
Most people use personal care products on a daily basis. We are on a
quest to smell good, have shiny hair and moist skin. But something nasty
lurks beneath the sweet perfume and bubbles. Cosmetic companies are
using chemicals that are known to cause cancer and birth defects, and
there are no regulations in place to control the amount of toxins that
are entering our bodies. The quest for beauty may lead us to death.
Personal care products
do not need approval from the FDA before reaching the shelves at your
local Walgreens. A study done by the National Institute of Occupational
Safety and Health lists 884 chemicals in use by the cosmetic industry as
toxic substances. But according to the FDA, cosmetic companies are
responsible for testing their own products to insure safety, and they
don�t have to file data on the ingredients they use.
�We have no idea what these chemicals do when they interact in our
body,� says Judi Shils of the Marin Cancer Project. �It is a toxic
This harsh mix of
chemicals is something Caroline Butterworth knows about on a personal
level. A bubbly, athletic woman in her late 30�s, Butterworth takes
pride in being healthy. She runs on a regular basis and buys organic
vegetables. She wears sunscreen every day. That is, she used to wear
sunscreen every day, until it gave her a rash that spread around her
mouth, cracking the skin and making it ooze. When she began to read
about the possible causes of her skin problem, Butterworth quit using
products with toxic chemicals.
�I know six people
under the age of 40 who have cancer,� Butterworth says. �Petroleum jelly
is OIL. Mineral oil is OIL. It is chemical warfare on your face.�
She now uses products
made by the
Neways International, which lists all its ingredients and
uses natural additives whenever possible.
Only 11 percent of the
10,500 ingredients in use by cosmetic companies have gone through
testing to determine possible health risks. The European Union recently
put a ban on using 450 chemicals found in personal care products. The
combination of certain chemicals has been found to be carcinogenic, but
there have been no long-term studies done by the FDA or the Cosmetic,
Toiletry and Fragrance Association to see what these chemicals do to our
Remember the baby pigs and huge toads floating in big glass jars in
eighth-grade science class? Most likely the fluid preserving them was
formaldehyde, which is added to deodorant and nail polish. Is your skin
feeling tight and dry today because you ran out of lotion? Next time
just go out to the garage and grab some antifreeze. Cosmetic
manufacturers add it to many skin lotions and shaving creams, so it must
have soothing qualities! The truth is no one knows how these chemicals
interact after they soak into your skin.
The Campaign for Safe
Cosmetics has been working since 2001 to eliminate toxins from beauty
products. They have been asking companies to remove the ingredients that
were banned in Europe from American products.
Over 300 companies have
signed on to the campaign, promising to get rid of controversial ingredients.
L�Oreal, Revlon and Unilever are removing the chemicals that fall under
the EU ban. One Bay Area company, Avalon, has made a larger commitment
to consumer health. Mary Kay, Arbonne, Melaleuca, Nu Skin, Avon, will
NOT sign the pact. Wonder why?
insidious and dangerous,� says Morris Shriftman, vice president of
Avalon. �There is a cumulative effect of products on the skin, and skin
Avalon has taken steps
to remove all petroleum-based ingredients, such as parabens, from their
products. They use organic ingredients whenever possible to support
sustainable agriculture, and their products are free of artificial
colors and fragrances.
contain chemicals linked to health and birth defects,� says Stacy
Malkan, communications director for Health Care without Harm. �It is
pretty disturbing. We are finding out that chemicals can cause health
effects in low doses. Read her website and book at
A handy website,
www.ewg.org, done by Skin Deep lets you rate your products for toxicity.
It may be time to lose the Lubriderm.
Here is a list of some
of the nastiest chemicals:
-Sodium Laureth Sulfate
(SLS) is found in 90 percent of all shampoo. It penetrates the skin very
easily and once inside the body, it collects in the heart, liver, lungs
and brain. If SLS mixes with other chemicals, it becomes carcinogenic.
Salon Selectives, Neutrogena Clean Shampoo and Clairol Herbal Essences
-Propylene glycol is
highly toxic and causes brain, liver and kidney damage. It is found in
deodorants such as Degree for Men, and hair products like L.A. Looks Gel
-DEA, MEA and TEA are
hormone disrupting chemicals, which can form cancer-causing
nitrosamines. They are found in shampoo and body wash, including Flex,
Pantene and Finesse Color Care. A study at the University of Illinois
shows a link between �repeated skin applications and liver and kidney
-Dibutyl phthalate is
banned in Europe because it has been linked to cancer. It is most
commonly found in nail polish, such as OPI, but since it is used to hold
scent in a product, it sneaks into hairsprays and deodorant. Many
companies do not even include it in the ingredient list, making it even
harder to spot and avoid.
-Artificial colors like
Blue 1 and Green 3 are carcinogenic. Colors with FD & C pigments are
made from coal tar, which is also banned in Europe and studies have
shown that it is carcinogenic. Dove Body Wash, Clearasil Body Wash and
Dark & Lovely have these color additives.
-Formaldehyde is a
preservative that damages the respiratory system, weakens the immune
system and can cause cancer. OPI Nail Treatments and nail polish contain
high levels of formaldehyde. And this list is just the beginning!
without any of the above harmful chemicals