Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Toxic Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Worse than any mutant monster lurking in the tub or the possibility of getting sucked down the drain, the toxic chemicals in your shampoo and soap are something to be feared.

A splash of neurotoxins to wash your face, a hint of carcinogens to make your hair really shine, all topped off with a mist of reproductive toxins to leave you sweet-smelling all day.

In the course of a single day, women put 168 chemical ingredients on their skin and men use 85. While these numbers seem inordinately high, the exhausting list on the back of most shampoo bottles alone puts a solid dent in the tally.

But just because these products are loaded with chemicals, does not mean they are safe.

The industry’s safety panel has reviewed less than 20 percent of all ingredients in cosmetics for safety, while the Food and Drug Administration does not assess their safety at all.

Personal care products, from makeup to shampoo, are full of ingredients that have been linked to cancer, asthma, damaged sperm, learning disabilities and other problems, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Some of the most common and dangerous are parabens and phthalates, which are in most popular cosmetics brands and include products like toothpaste, soap, perfume, makeup and countless more.

Parabens are used as a preservative and antimicrobial agents, and they are easily absorbed through the skin. More than 90 percent of Americans have parabens in their bodies, and they have been indentified in breast tumors .

Phthalates  are a group of chemicals that disrupt normal hormone function. They are most often found in nail polish and the synthetic fragrence of perfumes and other products like deoderant, lotions and body wash.

What is worse than their existance in our products is their persistance. The safety of many chemical ingredients has been called into question internataionally, and more than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain chemical ingredients that have been banned in the European Union, Canada or Japan.

Before you slather on your nightly routine or hop in the shower, take a look at the back of your products. Watch out forparabens, chemical names you cannot pronounce, dye, and “fragrance”, as this typically includes phthalates.

To find out what is in your products and how they rank, check out Skin Deep, a database of personal care products and their safety.

*This post was originally published in The Santa Clara.

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