It wasn’t until I settled down and began raising a family that I started to question what we were being exposed to. Actually, it was when I switched over to more natural products that we saw a shift in our wellness line. From there, I did more research on what was allowed to be on the ingredient list of products on the market. My research left me shocked and concerned. For that reason, I have switched our family over to natural products as much as possible and my list is growing each year. In this post, I wanted to share four ingredients I found to be concerning that I steer clear of when I purchase products for our family.
Parabens are man-made chemicals that are used as a preservative in many cosmetics and personal care products. The four most common forms of parabens according to the Food and Drug Administration are: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or ethylparaben. According to the Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, many products contain more than one paraben.
Examples of personal care products that contain parabens are shampoos, hair and shaving products, facial and skin cleansers, and lotions as well as many cosmetic products. According to the Center for Disease Control, the health effects on human beings from exposure to low amounts of parabens are unknown. The CDC goes on to indicate that there are no known allergic reactions from parabens in studies. However, in the same article, the CDC acknoweldges that “[d]espite evidence that parabens are non-allergenic, sporadic human cases have been reported of anaphylactic reactions following paraben exposure.”
Our family has found that there are many natural products on the market that do not contain parabens. Although there may not be evidence directly linking them to health concerns (yet), we choose to avoid them.
Phthalates are man-made chemicals that are used to make plastics more flexible (plasticizers). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), phthalates “are used in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes).”
Although they are used in personal-care products that are absorbed through our skin, the effects of phthalates on humans is also unknown. What is known, is that in studies on laboratory animals, phthalates have been confirmed to impair the reproductive system. The CDC warns that more research is needed in order to assess the impact that phthalates have on the human body.
That warning is enough for me to steer clear of them. Again, we buy several natural products online without this ingredient.
For more than 30 years, triclosan was a chemical used in various personal care products such as detergents, soaps, skin cleansers, deodorants, lotions, creams, toothpastes, and dishwashing liquids. Yet according to the CDC’s fact sheet published in 2009, “[m]ore research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to triclosan.”
Some studies reflected instances of skin irritation from triclosan. But overall, the effects on the human body are not widely known.
So what is triclosan? It is a chemical used for its antibacterial properties.
In 2016, the FDA banned triclosan as an ingredient in antibacterial soaps. The reason the FDA banned the ingredient because companies failed to prove the ingredient was safe. Yet this ingredient was not banned from other cosmetic and personal care products.
That may be concerning or shocking to you, it sure was to me. The explanation? The FDA governs food and drugs, not cosmetics and personal care products. Because antibacterial soaps were deemed a drug, with proven effects necessary to make a claim, the FDA had the power to limit the ingredient list for antibacterial soaps. Yet nothing has been done to limit the use of the ingredient in other products, including toothpaste.
A series of studies in 2013 found concerning results. Yet another publication in 2017 listed various concerns about the use of triclosan as an ingredient including its impact on human reproductive organs, allergies, asthma, antibiotic resistance, and gut bacteria. According to studies, triclosan has negatively impacted sperm counts and testosterone levels in animals exposed to the chemical.
Going back to triclosan being an ingredient permitted in toothpastes, one study found that animals exposed to the same amount of triclosan in toothpaste that would mirror exposure of a human being brushing their teeth saw a reduction of healthy gut bacteria in only three weeks. The study also showed that the animal had inflammation in the colon and increased quantity and severity of colon cancers.
Fragrance is one of the ingredients that scares me the most. Why? Because it’s a catch-all description that manufacturers can use to hide the true ingredient list. Although there are some limits, as a general rule, the term “fragrance” doesn’t need to list off each actual ingredient because it’s a proprietary blend. In other words, the manufacturer doesn’t have to disclose what is in their “fragrance” because it’s their creation (a trade secret).
That’s all find and good if the contents of that “fragrance” are safe. The problem I found from my research, is that even the government doesn’t know for sure what is safe. And of the studies done on ingredients, even when there are what I would deem unsafe findings, they can be declared safe enough.
Something else I wonder about – is what impact these chemicals have on the human body in larger quantities. While a study on the amount of a chemical in one toothpaste may be studied, what about the cumulative effect it can have on the body when that same chemical is being absorbed through our skin in a lotion, along with the various other products it may be inside.
The ingredients contained in personal care products and cosmetics on the market may or may be the root of all evil. But my personal opinion is that if I can avoid them by opting for ore natural ingredients, what do I have to lose? Sure natural products can be more expensive. But there’s nothing I’d rather invest in than my health.
And I buy almost all of my natural products through a company that rewards me with free product and gifts for my loyalty! So honestly I don’t think I spend more in the end. And I’m incredibly happy with the impact it’s had on our wellness. My skin is softer with less irritation and I love everything I’m using.
I choose to live by the standard of prevention rather than fixing problems after they have developed. I would rather take control of our health and wellness in every manner I can – by eating healthy, exercising, avoiding toxins and living above the wellness line – rather than reeling in the after-effects of illness, obesity and other wellness problems.