Thankfully, the health buzz about harmful beauty products has made it to the mainstream. Now, more than ever, there is a plethora of eco-friendly products to choose from. Who wants to apply lead-ridden lipstick anyway? As we elevate our understanding of health and awareness, it’s time to investigate products beyond the label. What do our favorite body care products to do to our health and the Planet’s? Let’s take a look at the top 3 offenders in our most common products and awesome alternatives to takes its place:
Meet the New Ingredient Blacklist
The phrase “dirty-dozen” may ring a bell in lieu of the recent cosmetic awareness. Parabens, parfum (fragrance), and other preservatives are noted for the nasty residues they leave on the body as they bioaccumulate over time. It’s time to introduce a new list of not-so-nice ingredients that may be hiding in your bathroom closet.
Top 3 Ingredients to Avoid:
While this germ-killing preservative found in antibacterial soaps was banned in the state of Minnesota, triclosan can still be discovered in many toothpaste brands, deodorants, dish detergents, and even workout clothing!
Body side-effects: Not only is triclosan an endocrine disruptor, it’s also a suspected carcinogen. Overuse of this chemical has lead to bacterial resistance and its lipophilic, which means it can bioaccumulate in your fat for a lengthy period of time. Sadly, the list does not end there – it can even weaken the immune system and trigger allergies like eczema and asthma in children.
Planetary side-effects: Research shows that triclosan survives even after being flushed down the drain. Small quantities persist even after water is treated at sewage plants. River biofilms are left vulnerable to its toxicity as small amounts end up in our streams and other bodies of water. Not only does this disrupt algae’s ability to perform photosynthesis, it also builds up in the fatty tissues of animals such as dolphins.
Pro-tip: Stick to brands with safe toothpaste ingredients. Many companies out there are devoted to making your smile brighter without dampening your health. Better yet, make your own toothpaste by brushing with baking soda, or adding essential oils for an extra boost.
2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
SLS is an icky ingredient that’s used to make a massive supply of body care products like soaps, body wash, and face wash. It’s derived from ethoxylated lauryl alcohol (that’s a mouthful!) and used as a surfactant.
Body side-effects: SLS can cause major irritations to the skin, lungs, and eyes as well as organ system toxicity.
Planetary side-effects: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate has been identified as an environmental toxin and is a potent pesticide (commonly used to kill plants and pests.) It pollutes our groundwater and it is particularly toxic to fish and other aquatic animals as it bioaccumulates in their bodies. Oftentimes, SLS is undetected in municipal water filters (and can even get into the tap water.)
Pro-tip: Seek out “cleaner” cleaning and body products. Apps like Think Dirty allow you to scan common body and home care items to find their ingredient score. There are plenty of awesome sources online that have a toxicity guideline for many popular brands. Bonus points if you vote with your dollars on sustainably clean brands like Dr.Bronner’s who make everything from toothpaste to hand soap.
3. Microbeads (Superparamagnetic Microbeads)
The idea of tiny beads in our body products may seem harmless, but the long-term effects are actually quite insidious to ourselves and biosphere. These gnarly little beads are usually less than a millimeter in diameter and made of polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene. They are found in everything from face exfoliants to body scrubs and can even end up in our toothpaste.
Body side-effects: While the health consequences of microbeads are not life-threatening, it’s important to note that over-exfoliating the skin can actually cause breakouts (which lead to acne), puffiness, and redness, The skin’s microbiome contains a beautiful arena of natural bacteria that are necessary to its health and radiance. Scrubbing away with plastic beads is a definite no-no and can lead to scary skin irritations.
Planetary side-effects: The same microbeads that are found in many supermarket face scrubs and toothpastes, can actually wreak havoc on the environment. These pesky beads make their way down the drains, through the filtration systems, and into our oceans. Ultimately, microbeads have been found to contribute to the plastic pollution of bodies of water (they soak up toxins like a sponge!), starving coral reefs of their proper nutrients, and sending resounding negative effects to other marine organisms.
It’s the Butterfly Effect.
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