While it might be easy to assume that if they’re being sold, products are safe to use. However, that’s simply not the case as there are a variety of harmful ingredients that are found in lotions, washes, and cosmetics many of us use every day. Protect your health by watching out for these 5 ingredients in your toiletries:
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is a chemical that is found in certain vitamins and foods. However, it has been linked to dangerous side effects that range from allergic reactions to liver damage. Despite these potential side effects, it’s still often included in products like sunscreen because of its reflective qualities.
Next time you purchase sunblock, find one that is PABA-free. It’s true that many people have been able to use these sunblocks without harm, but why risk it? Using a PABA-free sunscreen will provide you with peace of mind.
Sulfates are a synthetic ingredient known as a surfactant, or molecules that attract water and oil. Sulfates are commonly used in toiletries like body wash and shampoo and you’ll likely see them in the ingredients label as “sodium laureth sulfate” or “sodium lauryl sulfate”. They are designed to remove dirt and oils from your hair and body but it turns out they can actually do more damage than good because they can strip the natural oils that provide nutrients. This leaves your skin and hair dry and brittle.
From now on, make sure you only purchase sulfate-free shampoo, they’re available on every budget.
BHA & BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are synthetic antioxidants that are used in many lipsticks and other cosmetics because of their waxy consistency. This ingredient can cause allergic reactions on the skin for users, which is obviously not ideal since you’re likely using products with BHA or BHT on your face. Additionally, BHA is categorized as a potential carcinogen (a substance that can cause cancer) and has been shown to interfere with hormone function in some cases. Testing has shown that BHT is toxic to rats and mice.
To protect your health, you’d ideally want to choose cosmetics that are BHA- or BHT-free.
In addition to the many tanning dangers you may be aware of like tanning beds and spending too much time in the sun, now there’s something you need to worry about when faux-bronzing yourself for summer—dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is basically what makes your skin look darker when you use your fake-tanner. While it’s an active ingredient in many tanning products, it can have side effects if it is used incorrectly, which is easy to do. That’s because it can have negative health effects if it is inhaled or gets into your bloodstream through cuts.
Parabens are preservatives that can be naturally found in many foods (in very low levels) but they are also added to the majority of cosmetics. They are also frequently used in fragrances, maybe even your favorite perfume. Like DHA and DHT, Parabens can also interfere with hormone functions and cause uncomfortable skin reactions. If that’s not enough of a reason for you to want to avoid them, according to the David Suzuki Foundation, they have also been detected in breast cancer tissues.
Before spritzing yourself down with your signature scent as you’re heading out the door, do yourself a favor and try to find out if your perfume might contain a harmful level of parabens. Fragrance ingredients are usually kept as trade secrets, so it might be hard to determine. Instead, it might be easier to just do some research and find a paraben-free fragrance you like.
So, now that you’re aware of the toxic and harmful substances that can be found in many toiletries we use nearly every day, you might feel a little hopeless about being able to look your best. Fortunately, many cosmetic companies are striving to create safer, non-toxic products for their customers. Still you need to be careful.
While you should always check the ingredients label on your toiletries, they’re not always easy to decipher and not all ingredients may be listed. The key takeaway? Do your research on anything you use to avoid putting harmful chemicals in or on your body and make the shift toward using natural products instead.