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Toxic Ten List

Toxic Ten List

Here’s a list of what chemicals to avoid and safer alternatives when it comes to your personal care. I have done my best to simplify all this crazy science, so bear with me. (There’s reason to be mindful, but no reason to have an all-consuming concern about these chemicals.)

1.     1,4-Dioxane

·      What is this stuff??

Ok so this stuff is found in sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), which is a chemical used in products that lather and bubble up, like shampoo, toothpaste and body wash.

·      What does it do to me?

Long-term exposure to 1,4-Dioxane messes with your kidneys and liver, it is also likely to be carcinogenic.

2.     Artificial Musks (Nitromusks such as musk xylene and musk ketone)

·      What is this stuff??

Synthetic musks are chemicals used mostly in hair products and moisturizers to make them smell nice. However, they are also in “unscented” products as well. Because synthetic musks bioaccumulate and are only partially biodegradable, they get into freaking everything. Musk chemicals contaminate water, wastewater sludge, drinking water, soil, indoor air and get absorbed into animals that live in the contaminated water. These chemicals are toxic to a variety of seafood and have been found in salmon and shrimp (insert vegan promotion here).

·      What does it do to me?

There is evidence that synthetic musks disrupt hormones. High levels of musk xylene and musk ketone in women’s blood are associated with gynecological abnormalities such as ovarian failure and infertility.

3.     Coal Tar Derived Colours (P-Phenylenediamine-PPD)

·      What is this stuff??

This is mostly found in hair dye, with higher concentration in darker shades (vs. lighter shades). It’s also used in hair bleach, henna dyes and coloured shampoos.

·      What does it do to me?

Probable carcinogen and neurotoxin. Tons of other complications like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, acute leukemia and bladder cancer (gosh). There have also been links made between exposure to p-phenylenediamine and allergic contact sensitization and dermatitis, acute dermatitis, and severe facial oedema. You know when you’re getting your hair coloured and you think “Oh hey my head itches/burns,” well some common short-term reactions are itching, burning, hives and blistering. Funny.

4.     BHA & BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

·      What is this stuff??

BHA and BHT are brother and sister in a family of synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers, among other cosmetics. They are also widely used as food preservatives.

·      What does it do to me?

There is evidence that it causes thyroid and kidney problems and affects lung function and blood coagulation. BHT can also act as a tumor promoter in certain situations.

5.     Formaldehyde Releasing Agents (Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidnyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate)

·      What is this stuff??

These formaldehyde-releasing agents are used as preservatives in a variety of cosmetics. These chemicals are also used in the production of resins used in wood products, vinyl flooring and other plastics, permanent-press fabric, and toilet cleaners. Oh yes, get that all up on my face please.

·      What does it do to me?

It’s just formaldehyde. You know, the stuff they use to preserve organs and all that good stuff. I don’t think I need to explain this one.

INTERMISSION: I sure am talking about carcinogenics and endocrine disruptors a lot.  Just so everyone is up to speed, things labeled as a carcinogenic have the potential to cause cancer. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that, at certain doses, can mess with the endocrine (or hormone) system and if you’re a lady that can mean breast cancer.

6.     Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly)

·      What is this stuff??

Petrolatum is found in many hair care products, lip balms, soaps and skin care products. It’s also known as mineral oil jelly, and it’s used as a barrier to lock moisture in the skin and to make hair shine. Aw that sounds nice, huh?

·      What does it do to me?

So PETROLEUM is good and is used for lots of good things like after laser surgery to provide a protective barrier over the skin. It is also a great moisturizer. The problems happen when PETROLATUM (the stuff that goes in the petroleum jelly) gets contaminated. Being contaminated with PAHs makes this stuff a carcinogen and skin irritant. Confusing, I know, but I don’t make the rules, yo.

7.     Parabens (Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, or Propylparaben)

·      What is this stuff??

Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products; they stop fungus, bacteria and other microbes from growing in your favorite creams and makeup, especially in the moist, warm environment of a bathroom. As you can see, their names are a mouthful.

·      What does it do to me?

The biggest offenders are the endocrine disruptors. Guard your boobs ladies.

8.     Phthalates (Dibutyl Phthalate, DEHP, DEP)

·      What is this stuff??

This chemical is found in color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes and hair care products and nail products.

·      What does it do to me?

Our old friend the endocrine disruptor is back, and he brought he friend cancer and reproductive toxicity (hey fellas, in this case this leads to altered male genital development.)

9.     Silicone Chemicals (Cyclomethicone, Cyclotetrasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane)

·      What is this stuff??

All these long words are a group of chemical compounds that are used in products to make hair and skin appear smooth.

·      What does it do to me?

Cylcopentasiloxane (also known as D5) has been shown to cause uterine tumours and harm to the reproductive and immune systems. D5 can also influence neurotransmitters in the nervous system (too little of a neurotransmitter may cause the over accumulation of proteins, leading to disorders like Alzheimer’s; too much of a neurotransmitter may block receptors required for proper brain function, leading to disorders like schizophrenia. Yay science.)

10. Triclosan

·      What is this stuff??

This chemical is found in products labeled “antibacterial,” such as deodorants and hand sanitizers.

·      What does it do to me?

It is a known endocrine disruptor, and also is and environmental toxicant.

Wow, what a journey. Now what do you do with all this information? Well, if you don’t want any of this stuff in your personal hygiene products, have I got news for you. There is an adorable company in Canada called The Green Beaver Company and they sell 100% organic, vegan and cruelty free products. Yay! When I started running low on all my shower stuff like shampoo and what not, I replaced everything with their products. My favorites contain tea tree oil (don’t even get me started on this stuff, that’s a whole other post) which is just the greatest thing in the world. I also purchased their all purpose castile soap in lavender. All purpose really means all purpose, I use it as body wash and mix up some laundry detergent with it.  Also a little disclaimer, I received a little pamphlet talking about all these toxic ingredients with my Green Beaver order. I’m an art history major I don’t know anything about chemicals and science, but I do know that I want natural products. So there you go. 

Who Am I? I am a woman that God made, sustains, and loves. I am a woman stumbling in the darkness of this world, blinded by my anxiety and fear. I am tripping over flat ground and running into walls society has built for me because I am an introvert who needs to come out of the shell I feel perfectly fine in. I am a college student alone in a state I am unfamiliar with, thrown into this strange world of responsibility without my parents to guide me. I am a child, wide eyed and innocent, constantly asking the same questions over and over because my mind doesn't understand. I am Veronica, a woman in love with her God and the red rocks of the deserts and the mountain air he created.
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