When you think of your bathroom and about dirty things in it, you’re bound to think of the toilet or toilet seat, or maybe even your toothbrushes. Well, those do have their share of germs, but we’re talking about something more dangerous. We’re talking about toxins that lie lurking in the various products you use on a daily basis. So here in this blog there is Must Know List of Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products in Your Bathroom.
Think about it. As soon as you wake up, you use toothpaste on your toothbrush, and then probably a swirl with mouthwash. You wash your hands with an antibacterial soap. You shower with a shower gel, apply shampoo and conditioner in your hair. Then you slather on the body lotion and spray deodorant before you leave the bathroom and then proceed to get ready for the day.
This means that within an hour of waking up, you’ve already applied a whole array of products on your body, which means several chemicals have already made their way into your bloodstream. Scary thought, isn’t it?
It doesn’t end there. As you apply sunscreen, moisturizer and makeup, the number of chemicals increases. Then at the end of the day, you end with a similar washing routine with the same products.
According to studies, the average woman applies 12 personal care products every day, with a total of over 100 ingredients. Most people don’t bother reading the ingredient list, preferring to choose a product based on the price or the brand name. Today, we’re going to unearth the ugly truth under all that gorgeous marketing by looking at some common toxins in your bathroom cabinet.
7 Must-Know List of Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products in Your Bathroom
Found in: Antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, deodorant
Triclosan has been used as a pesticide and as a surgical scrub but is now a common ingredient in all everything antibacterial, whether its soap or toothpaste. It’s also present in utensils or clothes that claim to be antibacterial.
Several studies show that triclosan can cause hormone disruption, resulting in early puberty and infertility in humans. It has also been linked to increased allergies in children. Prolonged exposure can also affect the level of thyroid hormones.
Another problem is bacterial resistance, which leads to the rise of superbugs, which can’t be controlled by antibiotics. The protection offered by antibacterial products and regular products isn’t very different, and the addition of triclosan is not worth any added benefit.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Found in: Soap, shower gels, shampoos, toothpaste
SLS or SLES is actually an insecticide that is used as a surfactant in personal care products and cleaning products. It is responsible for the foam or lather that comes from using these products.
SLS is one of those products that have been proven toxic by several studies, but they still appear in most personal care products. SLS and SLES can irritate the mouth and strip away the lining. It damages the mucous membranes and respiratory tract in a similar manner. This compound has also been known to lower immunity and cause organ toxicity.
SLS and SLES can also appear under the following names in the ingredient list:
- Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)
- Monododecyl ester
- Sodium salt
- Sulfuric acid
- Sodium salt sulfuric acid
- Monododecyl ester sodium salt sulfuric acid
- Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt
- Aquarex methyl
- Akyposal SDS
Found in: Moisturizers, deodorants, toothpaste
Parabens are used mainly as preservatives to increase the shelf life of personal care products. They include a class of compounds like ethylparaben, methylparaben and butylparaben.
The biggest risk of parabens is the way it affects all the hormone-producing glands in the human body, including the pituitary gland, pancreas and ovaries. Parabens can increase estrogen, which results in early menopause and puberty, endometriosis, fibroids and polycystic ovarian syndrome. It also causes a higher risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, testicular and prostate cancer.
Individual concentrations of parabens may be safe, but when we consider the accumulation of the chemical over time, it gets dangerous. Parabens also appear under the name alkyl para hydroxy benzoates.
Found in: Shampoo, shower gel or body wash, hair gel, deodorant
Formaldehyde’s most well-known use is in preserving dead bodies and in dissection labs. Besides this, it is also used as a disinfectant in several personal care products.
Formaldehyde has been classified as a Class A carcinogen, and due to this, it has been banned from cosmetics in countries like Sweden and Japan. Formaldehyde leads to an increased risk of leukaemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and various other cancers like nasopharyngeal and lung cancer.
Formaldehyde is also known as formal, methyl aldehyde, formalin. It may also appear under the following names in the ingredient list:
- Sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate
- DMDM hydantoin
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Imidazolidinyl urea
Found in: Shower gel, shampoo, perfumes, hair spray, nail varnish
Phthalates are used in plastic homeware like cups, bottles, and toys as an industrial plasticizer. They are also used in perfumed personal care products so that the fragrance lasts longer.
Phthalates are toxic for humans and have been banned in the European Union. Their effects are similar to parabens, by mimicking estrogen and causing infertility, early puberty, PCOS and other reproductive issues. Phthalates are easily absorbed into the skin and can seep into the bloodstream, damaging the kidney, lungs and liver.
Unfortunately, since phthalates are stabilizers for fragrance, they are not mentioned specifically on the ingredient list and are simply included under the term ‘fragrance’.
Found in: Moisturizers, shampoos, sunscreen
DEA or Diethanolamine are used in personal care products that require a creamy texture. DEA can cause damage on various levels, starting with irritation to the skin and eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause liver cancer as well as precancerous effects in skin and thyroid.
What’s worse is that DEA can react with nitrites in cosmetic, forming nitrosamines which are classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Due to this reason, DEA has also been declared harmful by The European Union.
Similar to DEA, MEA (monoethanolamide) and TEA (triethanolamine) can also react with chemicals in cosmetics to form carcinogenic compounds like nitrosamines.
Found in: All personal care products
Fragrance is considered an ‘umbrella term’ that accommodates up to 4000 undisclosed compounds from the International Fragrance Association, including those which are carcinogenic.
Brands claim that they cannot disclose the exact compounds included in order to protect their trade secret, but this only gives them the freedom to include whatever they like. A study by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners found 338 fragrance chemicals in 25 cosmetics, 75% of which can cause serious health issues. Many of these compounds are known to cause premature ageing, hormone disruption while also irritating the respiratory tract and triggering asthma attacks. Toluene, a compound in nail/hair care products and hidden under fragrance, can also affect fetal development.
Going by this list of toxins, here are the top 5 products in your bathroom cabinet that you should be particularly careful about:
- Toothpaste – Triclosan, SLS, artificial sweeteners, fluoride, DEA
- Shampoo – Parabens, SLS, DEA, formaldehyde, fragrance
- Body Lotion – BHA, DEA, fragrance, Parabens, Retinyl Palmitate, Triethanolamine
- Moisturizer – Phthalates, parabens, DEA, fragrance
- Deodorant – Parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, triclosan
The reason this list is so significant because many of these products are used in our bath. During bath time, your skin is more open to absorption, opening the pores and letting the product settle in. Anti perspirants and deodorants clog the skin follicles, preventing the body’s natural mechanism of sweating to get rid of toxins. As for toothpaste, our mouths easily absorb these ingredients, helping them reach our bloodstream faster.
The best way to avoid this assault of chemicals is to read the ingredient list carefully before buying any product. Start with products that sit on the skin and aren’t rinsed off, like moisturizers and lotions. Choose products that are certified organic or at least with a smaller ingredient list. For more information on how your product fares, check out the toxin levels at EWG.org.
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