Detoxifying your body is the first step on the track to living a healthy lifestyle. Most people look to detoxify their bodies by eating well, but the road to a clean, toxin-free body doesn’t stop there. What is just as important as what you put in your body? There can only be one answer — what you put on your body.

Unfortunately, many of the toiletries we find in stores everywhere today are filled to the brim with harmful chemicals. The promises of vitality made by cosmetic companies and the allure of the sweet scents might beckon you to try these products, but don’t let them fool you. From bath soap to deodorant to sunscreen, you may be using products that can have adverse effects on your health. In order to rid your body of these chemicals, first you will have to know just what these chemicals are and how they affect you. Stop buying personal care items that contain these ingredients ASAP and check out some alternative products you can make yourself!

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1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Meet the chemical that Discover Health and Wealth refers to as “possibly the most dangerous ingredient in personal care products.” It has been given this title because it has been found to cause eye damage, depression, respiratory problems, skin irritation, hair loss, damage to major organs such as the heart, brain and liver, and in animals, even eventual death. SLS enters the body easily through the skin and is especially harmful to children. When mixed with certain chemicals, it is known to form nitrosamines, which are carcinogens. SLS can be found in hair care products, toothpaste, body wash, and cosmetics.

2. Diethanolamine (DEA), Momoethanolamine (MEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

What do these three chemicals have in common? DEA, MEA and TEA are all “ethanolamines,” hormone disrupting chemicals that may form carcinogens when mixed with certain chemicals. These chemicals negatively affect both male and female reproductive systems, and consequently, the brain development of children whose parents were exposed. They also affect the liver and kidney and run the risk of forming cancer due to the possible creation of carcinogens. DEA, MEA, and TEA can be found in hair care products, soaps, lotions, cosmetics, perfumes, and sunscreens.

3. Oxybenzone

We all apply sunscreen with one big issue in mind — skin cancer. However, according to the Environmental Working Group, over half of all sunscreen products contain oxybenzone, a chemical that may potentially lead to skin cancer. This chemical is also a hormone disruptor that has been found in the breast milk of women and may lead to reproductive issues in men and women, along with endometriosis in women. Oxybenzone is primarily found in sunscreen.

4. Phthalates

Out of all the chemicals used in our every-day lives, phthalates are probably the most common. Phthalates are petroleum-based chemicals that were originally used to make plastics more flexible. According to Everyday Exposures, the side-effects of phthalates includes: reproductive system complications, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, respiratory complications, allergies, and obesity. It has also been linked to incidences of developmental disorders in children. Other than plastics, phthalates can be found in hair care products, perfumes, deodorants, cosmetics, and soaps. The FDA does not require phthalates to be labeled specifically, so they are often labeled under the umbrella terms of “fragrance” or “parfum.”

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5. Propylene Glycol

Do you use antifreeze as coolant in your car? Ever considered rubbing it on your skin? Propylene Glycol, a component of antifreeze, can also be found in many commonly-used toiletries, to keep them wet after opening. The adverse effects of this chemical include skin irritation, tearing up when applied to eyes, and complications with liver, kidney, and brain functions. Propylene Glycol can be found in deodorant, lotion, hair care products, body wash, and toothpaste.

6. Fragrance

Fragrance is used as an umbrella term for a variety of chemicals that do not need to be specified, such as the aforementioned phthalates and TEA, many of which may be toxic and/or carcinogenic. Some symptoms of the chemicals in fragrance may include headaches and dizziness, respiratory problems, skin irritation, reproductive complications, vomiting and coughing, and effects the nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability. Fragrance can be found in most commercial toiletries.

How to Buy and Make Better Personal Care Products

Now, you might be wondering: if all of these harmful chemicals are ever so present in toiletries, what are the alternative options? Lucky for you, there are some great companies out there such as Lush, who sells natural as well as cruelty-free hygiene and cosmetic products. Etsy also features many home-made toiletries unlikely to contain any harmful chemicals. Of course, there are also plenty of DIY recipes for any product you may need! You might start with making your own perfume, toothpaste, deodorant and hair care products.

Image source: shawncampbell/ Flickr

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