What does diazolindinyl urea, formaldehyde, Ceteareth-20, P-Phenylenediamine, methylparaben, lead, mercury, and micronized titanium dioxide all have in common? Yes they are chemicals, but more importantly than that? Give up? Okay, I will tell you, but you are not going to like it.
All of these chemicals can be found in many personal hygiene products such as cosmetics, facial creams, and shampoos. And they can cause numerous health hazards from mild to quite serious: allergic reactions, skin irritations, endocrine issues, organ toxicity, neurotoxicity, and more.
vDiazolindinyl urea: excreted from animal urine and other bodily fluids and found in products such as deodorants, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, and shampoos.
vFormaldehyde: is a chemical that is widely used as a preservative, embalming fluid, disinfectant, fungicide, germicide, and production of resins, to name a few. It is found in products such as: nail polish, and nail polish remover.
vP-Phenylenediamine: is used primarily as a dye in hair coloring and dyes for fur-coloring. Acute exposure to high levels may result in severe dermatitis, eye irritation, asthma, gastritis, vertigo, convulsions, and coma.
vMethylparaben: Used as an antiseptic and preservative and found in a variety of personal hygiene products from cosmetics to shampoos.
vCeteareth-20: Used as a penetration enhancer – alters the structure of the skin thus allowing for chemicals to penetrate deeper into the skin. Found in a number of skin care creams.
vButylated hydroxyanisole (BHA): It is a preservative and found in many styling lotions, gels, and conditioners. It is a known carcinogen.
vMicronized Titanium Dioxide: Found primarily in sunscreen products.
The personal hygiene industry is a billion-dollar business. At one time in our lives all women will put some form of make-up on their face. We don’t really give it a second thought. Most of us believe that big brother (the government) is watching over us and protecting us from the hidden dangers lurking within. The sad truth of the matter is that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not require companies to test their products prior to placing them on the market. And although many studies have found these chemicals and many others to be found in personal care products, nothing has been done to change it.
Frankly I wouldn’t blame the FDA, as there are a lot of loopholes in our legal system that should spread the blame around. As consumers it really is our responsibility to advocate for our families and ourselves. We live in a country that provides us with many choices, freedom to choose, even if those choices are harmful such as alcohol and cigarette smoking. The lobby groups for this industry are huge and finding for change will not be easy. However there are several grassroot organizations who would welcome the help. You can start by visiting www.safecosmetics.org; www.cosmeticsdatabase.com; and www.ewg.org/sunscreen.
In the meantime, there are things you can do right now to protect yourself and your loved ones. First and foremost, read the labels of all products you purchase. The more you learn about the ingredients used to make these products the more you will understand and be able to distinguish the safer products from the potentially hazardous ones. My son has eczema so I buy fragrance-free as much as possible. By going fragrance-free you eliminate many of the potentially hazardous chemicals used to give the product a nice smell. Personally I think no odor is the best way to go. If you really have to have the smell then cut up an orange or lemon and dap it behind your ear and on your wrists.
Another important consideration – discontinue any product that results in skin irritation, redness, hives, itchiness, watery eyes, and the like. If you have an eye infection, irritation, or cut then doesn’t use any makeup until it clears up. Many of these chemicals can’t harm you unless they can enter the body. Also many of us will keep our make-up for years, thinking it can never go bad. But makeup does go bad; it harbors all kinds of germs, and should be replaced every three to six months. I used to get a lot of styes and couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until I started to replace my mascara more frequently that the stye went away. So now I replace my mascara and lipstick every two months.
Armed with knowledge you will become a more savvy shopper and consumer!
In health and wellness,
Disclaimer: Dr. Mundorff is a Board Certified Naturopath, and not a medical doctor. The information in this column is for educational purposes only and should not be used to self-diagnose and treat diseases. Naturopathy is a complementary practice to health care and should be used in conjunction with a competent health care practitioner. Many herbal and homeopathic remedies can actually be contraindicated in many health conditions, with certain prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications. Please consult your physician before starting any alternative modalities.