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Ingredients to Avoid


Environmental Working Group has been sounding off on the toxic ingredients we use daily in personal care products for quite a while. Their studies report even popular products may contain hormone disruptors and carcinogens. Unfortunately most people think products are quite safe as long as a familiar brand name is on it or a famous movie star advertises for it. We do know cancer and other chronic illness are on the rise in adults and children.

What is in Your Bathroom?

Most people don’t realize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the personal care and cosmetic industry.
These companies can put any ingredients they choose in products and not even list some of the ingredients. According to the Environment Working Group (EWG), a consumer based watchdog group for safety, we absorb over 123 ingredients daily into our body through the skin. What’s shocking is that over 90 percent of these ingredients have not been safety tested. What is a consumer to do to ensure the products they use are safe and minimize the risk of absorbing toxic ingredients? You really need to take responsibility for you and your family and become a wise consumer. The choice for health is yours. I think that is essential. The safe principles outlined below should help you to that end.

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3 SAFE PRINCIPLES TO LIVE BY:


* PUT SAFETY FIRST – Don’t assume because a brand is well-known that it’s safe. Become educated on what ingredients are flagged as toxic and don’t buy products that contain those ingredients.
* CHOOSE THE SAFE PRODUCTS – There are many databases on the Internet that you can use to search safe products. One such website is the EWG’s Skin Deep. They list companies and grade them for safety and even list all the ingredients. To find out any side effects to botanicals or herbs listed on a product, check it on MedLine Plus. Just because a product has the word “natural” on it, don’t think it’s safe. This is a marketing tool used to sell products to unsuspecting buyers. Many herbs are soaked in toxic preservatives that don’t even list the agent it was preserved in.
* AVOID THESE INGREDIENTS – Certain ingredients are known to be toxic but may be found in many products. Next time you’re shopping for products such as deodorants, skin care, toothpaste, etc., check to see how many of these ingredients are listed on them:

1,4-dioxane – a carcinogenic contaminant found in cosmetics and personal care products. Could be contained in ingredients such as ethoxylated surfactants, a commonly used foaming agent.
Alcohol – Frequently found if mouthwash, alcohol is not helpful for the health of your mouth. It can dry the tissues and cause gum disease and cavities.
Diazolidinyl Urea
– Found in many products, this is a strong irritant and may cause contact dermatitis.
Dibutyl phthalate – a known toxin found in most nail polish.
Echinacea
– This popular herb has been associated with an increased incidence of rash in children. Side effects can include stomach discomfort, nausea, rash, headaches, and muscle aches. The risk may outweigh the potential benefits of preventing a cold.
Fragrance – Fragrance can mean it contains many separate ingredients, many of which can be toxic and cause allergies, headaches, skin irritation, hyperactivity and others, as reported by the FDA.
Lanolin
– Lanolin is usually obtained from sheep wool. It is highly contaminated with pesticides and insecticides.
Mineral Oil
– This petroleum by-product clogs the pores, promoting acne and skin damage.
Parabens – Used as a preservative in many products in the form of methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl. Two studies reported finding this chemical in breast cancer tissue.
Polyethylene Glycol
– Petroleum based ingredients can dry the tissues. It thickens products.
Propylene Glycol
– Another petroleum derived ingredient. Commonly used to preserve herbal extracts (organic and non-organic), but not listed on labels.
Saccharin – This and similar artificial sweeteners have found themselves on and off the FDA toxic list. You’re better off avoiding them.
Salicylic Acid
– This ‘natural’ ingredient is an anti-inflammatory found in Aspirin, many anti-aging skin care and acne treatment products. It dries the tissues and can cause allergies with long-term use. This is found naturally in all botanicals in varying amounts. Using products with herbs and extracts frequently could result in allergies due to salicylate content.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – A foaming agent and industrial detergent found in most if not all shampoos, toothpaste, bath gels and other personal care products. It can cause outbreak of canker sores, dry the tissues and result in contact dermatitis.
Stearalkonium chloride – found in conditioners, is an irritating chemical.
Tea Tree Oil – According to MedLine Plus, this herb which is also known as melaleuca, has many reports of allergy taken by mouth or used on the skin. Skin reactions range from mild contact dermatitis to severe blistering rashes.
Triclosan
– This antimicrobial agent is found in body soaps, deodorants, dish soap, shampoos, toothpaste and mouthwash. The Center for Disease Control reports overuse of antimicrobials may lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Flora Stay, D.D.S.is the founder of Cleure (www.cleure.com), she is an author and clinical professor at University of Southern California.
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