The Dirty Dozen:
Major Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

In 1938, the regulation of cosmetics fell into the purview of the Food and Drug Administration. However, for a variety of reasons, the FDA created a unique regulation scheme for cosmetics, which essentially meant that cosmetics were largely regulated by the Cosmetics Industry itself. This includes how products are created, manufactured, packaged and labeled. It’s not that they’re not evaluated at all, but they are not evaluated under the same rigorous standards as the government evaluates our food and our medicines. Also, as we know from a quick stroll through the supermarket, a lot of what we’re “permitted” to eat and drink is not necessarily very good for us.

The major turning point for me was when, in my research, I came to really understand the “role” of our skin. I was always used to hearing doctors say, “Try this cream or that gel. It’s topical. It’s not like it’s going to get into your system.”

Not true. Our skin is the body’s largest organ. It’s our most important immune defense barrier as well as our most efficient waste elimination mechanism. We absorb into our body what is put on our skin, simple as that. And if our skin is “coated” with products that act as plastic barriers, this natural process – absorption/elimination – cannot function as it needs to.

When I turned my attention to my body’s health, these were the first ingredients I felt most critical to avoid.

1. Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol: Found in Anti-freeze. Acts as a “surfactant” (wetting agent and solvent). Penetrates the skin and weakens protein and cellular structure. Strong enough to remove barnacles from boats, factory workers are required by the FDA to wear protective clothing when producing products containing these chemicals and are required to dispose of PG as toxic waste. Baby wipes, diaper creams, baby lotion, facial cleansing cloths, facial cleansers, body washes, shampoos, toothpastes, etc.

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Detergents pose serious health threats. Used in garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers and in 90% of all personal-care products that foam. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS. SLS may damage the skin’s immune system. Baby body washes, baby shampoos, anti-bacterial hand washes, shaving cream, body lotions, shampoos, etc.

3. DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine): Hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing nitrates. Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated applications of DEA-based detergents result in major increase in liver and kidney cancer. The FDA’s John Bailey says “the risk is significantly increased for children.” Body lotions, body washes, cleansers, shampoos, etc.

4. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): Carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that reduces the skin’s natural moisture. Increases the appearance of aging and leaves you vulnerable to bacteria. Baby wipes, diaper creams, baby lotions, cleansers, body washes, deodorants, etc.
5. Sodium Hydroxide: This is a poison (caustic lye) found in drain cleaners. The warning label on sodium hydroxide products reads “POISON, May be fatal or cause permanent damage if swallowed. May cause blindness. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, mouth and clothing.” Toothpastes, baby lotions, hand and body lotion, etc.

6. Triclosan: Synthetic “antibacterial” with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange! The EPA registers Triclosan as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to human health and the environment. It is in a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Tufts University, School of Medicine says Triclosan can force the emergence of “super bugs” that it cannot kill. Anti-bacterial hand wash, antibacterial toys, etc.

7. DMDM and Urea (Imidazolidnyl): Two of many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Body lotions, body washes, anti-bacterial hand washes, cleansers, shampoos, etc.

8. Parabens: Studies show that parabens – alkyl hydroxy parabens – alpha hydroxy benzoate (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- and butyl-parabens) are weakly estrogenic. Baby Wipes, baby body washes, anti-bacterial hand washes, facial wipes, body lotions, shampoos, etc.

9. Alcohol, Isoproplyl, SD-40: Drying, irritating solvent that strips skin’s moisture and immune barrier, making you vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. Made from the same petroleum derivative used in shellac and antifreeze as well as personal care products. Promotes brown spots and premature aging. Lotions, creams, deodorants, etc.

10. Mineral Oil: Petroleum by-product that coats the skin similar to plastic wrap, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Lotions, Creams, etc.

11. FD&C Color Pigments: Synthetic colors from coal tar that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, cleansers, baby products, wipes, hand washes, deodorants, lotions, creams, etc.

12. Fragrances: Can contain up to four thousand ingredients (including animal urine), many toxic or carcinogenic. Causes headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, skin discoloration, violent coughing, vomiting, and skin irritation. Fragrances affect the nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope and other behavioral changes. Shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, cleansers, baby products, wipes, hand washes, deodorants, lotions , creams, etc.

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