The world of personal care products is a chemical minefield and your chosen products may be wreaking havoc on your health without you even realizing it. Many of these types of chemicals are linked to cancer, some are toxic to your brain, and others could interfere with your reproductive functions. It’s all quite frightening when you think about it. So why not educate yourself on the chemicals to avoid in your personal care products? With today’s technology there are some fantastic ways for you to discover if there are any hidden nasties within your favorite products.

The chemicals within our personal care products also have an impact on animals and the environment. Some of these products are tested on animals before given the go ahead for human use and when our products are flushed down the drain they can be harmful to fish, along with the animals which consume fish.

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So next time you visit the store, keep your eyes peeled for these chemicals within your beauty products.

1. Parabens and Phthalates

Parabens are found in a range of products from deodorants to creams, lotions, and more. They have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. Phthalates are used in an array of products including food packaging and personal care products. Researchers have linked them to many different diseases including but not limited to: asthma, breast cancer, altered reproductive development, and male fertility issues. Because parabens and phthalates are found in such a vast range of products, it could be a good idea to educate yourself on how to avoid them.

2. Ethanolamines

Ethanolamine compounds (most commonly MEA, DEA, and TEA) are used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in many personal care products from shampoos and conditioners, to pharmaceutical ointments, and shaving creams to name a few. Health concerns linked to these chemicals include cancer and organ system toxicity.

3. Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives (FRPs)

Formaldehyde and FRPs can be found in many personal care products and are often found in liquid baby soaps and shampoos. It’s pretty scary that formaldehyde is considered a known human carcinogen yet it appears to be used in products intended for infants. It can also cause some people allergic skin reactions and it is banned from use in cosmetics and toiletries in Sweden and Japan.

4. Coal Tar

Coal tar is found in soaps, shampoos, hair dyes, and more. The health concerns associated with coal tar include cancer of the kidney, digestive tract, lung, and bladder plus a constituent of coal tar – pyridine – has been linked to neurological damage.

5. Heavy Metals

Unfortunately I am not talking about the genre of music but rather a collection of literal metals which are found in our cosmetics and personal care products. These metals could be lead, mercury, arsenic and others and they are lurking in our everyday items. Heavy metals can be found in whitening toothpastes, eye drops, and moisturizers plus some makeup products.

Now that you know all of the harmful ingredients that can be found in personal care products, you’re probably ready to start looking for some alternatives. The good news is there are many simple things you can do to start. Take the Think Dirty app for example. This nifty application educates and empowers consumers into finding out what’s really in their beauty products. This app allows you to scan products’ barcodes so that you can find out more information about your chosen products and see how they fare on the “Dirty Meter.” As well as this you can also keep up to date with the top 10 most dangerous toxins in cosmetics.

Or you can take yourself out of the commercial cosmetic loop entirely by opting to DIY all of your own personal care products. Making your own shampoo, eyeliner, and lotion allows you to control every single ingredient and know precisely what you’re putting on your skin – not to mention, it can be incredibly easy to do, and save you some money in the long run! Check out The Ultimate Green Monster’s Guide to DIY Living to get started!

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Image source: Umberto Salvagnin/Wikipedia Commons