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5 Hidden Toxins in Your Skin Care Products

The skin does many things for us. It shelters us from exposure to environmental elements such as bacteria and helps keep our innards intact. It gives us a sense of touch and regulates our body temperature. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and it’s one of the first things people notice on us.

Naturally, we seek to protect our skin in return and treat it well. We lather, exfoliate, moisturize, and sunscreen. We spend a lot of money on our skin. But, are the products we’re using actually harming us instead?

Here are 5 hidden toxins in skin care products to avoid:

1. Parabens

Parabens are commonly used as preservatives in skin care products and cosmetics to extend the product’s shelf life. However, they may also be toxic to the body. A 2012 study reported the presence of at least one paraben in 99% of human breast tumors sampled and about 60% of those samples containing five parabens. Thus, the study showed parabens are getting into our bodies and that they may be a contributing factor to breast cancer. Parabens may also cause reproductive health and fertility problems.

It is important to note, however, that no studies have been published showing a “direct link” between parabens and health issues such as breast cancer. There have only been assumptions.

2. Petrolatum

Petrolatum, (also known as mineral oils, petroleum jelly, or paraffin), is the base of many moisturizing products. In its purest form, it’s considered safe. However, as a byproduct of crude oil and having a varied purification process, petrolatum may sometimes be contaminated with potentially carcinogenic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Petrolatum also acts like a “plastic wrap” and suffocates the pores of your skin, building up toxins over time.  It may also cause early aging and aggravated acne.

3. Diethanolamine (DEA)

Diethanolamine (DEA) is used as a foaming agent in shampoos, soaps, and similar products. By itself, DEA is not harmful. But, overtime, it can react with other chemicals in a product’s formula and produce a carcinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). In a study to assess the risk of NDEA, the chemical induced liver tumors in all laboratory rats used during the research. NDEA is stated as carcinogenic in all laboratory animals tested and produces bladder, stomach, intestine, esophagus, and respiratory tract tumors, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

4. Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals commonly used in products with “Fragrance” on its’ ingredient list because it gives a product, such as perfume, more staying power. Phthalates also go by the abbreviations of DBP, DEP, and BzBP on personal care products. The chemical is linked to reproductive damage, hormonal disruptions, and birth defects. In a 2006 study, research showed a link between phthalates and decreased sperm quality. The Environmental Working Group, among other organizations, tested 72 personal care products for phthalates and found the toxin in 52 of those products tested.

5. Heavy Metals

Heavy metals, (including lead, mercury, arsenic, nickel, beryllium, selenium, thallium, and cadmium), are found in personal care products and they might be poisoning you. Over time, heavy metals can build up and cause “cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, neurological problems; memory loss; mood swings; nerve, joint and muscle disorders; cardiovascular, skeletal, blood, immune system, kidney and renal problems; headaches; vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea; lung damage; contact dermatitis; and brittle hair and hair loss.”

How about your makeup? Environmental Defence found 49 makeup items with 7 of the 8 heavy metals listed above. And lipstick? The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found 61% of lipsticks they tested contained traces of lead.  There’s no level of lead exposure that appears to be “safe.”

Image Source: Shawn Campbell/Flickr