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  • Writer's pictureThe Essential Homemaker

Toxins in the Cosmetics Industry ~ Part 3

Continuing with our journey into a closer look at the toxins in the cosmetic industry: Parabens and Sulfates.

Parabens have been around since the 1950’s. They are a class of preservatives in cosmetics and personal hygiene products that extend shelf life. Parabens are synthetic compounds that are added to toothpastes, deodorants, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and other products such as baby products to stop the growth of microbes. Approximately 90% of typical store shelf items have a measurable amount of parabens, which is why they have become a major concern.

It is important as a consumer that you be able to read a product label of ingredients. Parabens are easy to identify by their names: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben are the most commonly used in the cosmetics industry.

Public health advocates are concerned with the cumulative effects of this common exposure. While one item may be within safety limits set by the FDA, all the items we use in a single day is potentially too much for our bodies to handle, causing a wide range of health problems. Parabens have been researched and are KNOWN to disrupt hormone function, and its link to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Parabens mimic estrogen binding receptors on cells increasing division. Breast tumors were studied and 5 intact parabens (unaltered by the body’s metabolism) were present. Parabens have also been linked to reproductive, immunological, neurological and skin irritation issues.

Keep in mind, parabens are found in baby products and products marketed for children as well as for adults. This young population is highly sensitive to the endocrine disruptors. It is so important to limit their little bodies to the exposure of these chemicals.

Hidden parabens are in the ever-elusive ingredient: FRAGRANCE. As we have learned in a previous post, the ingredient ‘fragrance’ is not regulated by the FDA in any way and companies are allowed to claim proprietary blend as a trade secret. Read your ingredient list. If you see the word fragrance, don’t buy it.

You can check the Skin Deep database to check your personal care products for risky ingredients. The EWG website and app are helpful as well when looking of non-toxic products to use. I personally like the Think Dirty app as well. It is important to double check and cross reference your purchases as a “paraben-free” product may have used another harmful chemical to replace it.

Some companies, large and small, like the Essential Homemaker are creating preservative-free products that may have a shorter shelf life than conventional products but are 100% non-toxic, or you can make your own.

When it comes to health and wellness products, I choose to make my own. I check the purity of every single ingredient I use, including the essential oils.

Sulfates are detergents, effective foaming agents found in toothpaste, shampoo, body washes and more. The most common sulfate is sodium lauryl sulfate.

Sulfates are concerning because they break down proteins which leads to a degenerative effect on cell membranes. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review indicates that as long as sulfates are rinsed off the skin, there is no carcinogenic impact, yet sulfate residues have been found in heart, lung and brain tissues….I feel like their statement is biased.

Sulfates are really bad for your hair too. Just like the breakdown of proteins on the skin causing damage/degeneration to the cell membranes, the same thing is happening to the hair! If your hair is dry, dull and thin and/or your scalp is irritated, and itchy, you should use sulfate-free shampoo. Be careful though, many companies are replacing sulfates with chemicals that are even more dangerous! The Essential Homemaker is working on a shampoo bar that is 100% non-toxic, made from raw/unrefined organic ingredients and no toxic, synthetic nasties. The shampoo bar will also be very environmentally friendly as there is nothing to throw away filling the landfills.

It’s important to note that if a product lathers, it’s a detergent. No wonder common store bought products make our skin and hair dry! Detergents strip oils. The Essential Homemaker shampoo bar will not strip oils, nor will it leave the skin or hair dry.

It is easy to make swaps for commonly used products with castile soap. Castile soap is made from vegetable oils. It is non-toxic, natural and free from synthetic ingredients. Make your own hand soap and body wash. I made a blog post about this previously with a few of my personal tried and true recipes we have used for years.

Note: Castile soap doesn’t work as well with hard water. If you do not have soft water, you will need to find alternate recipes than the ones I have posted. If you need assistance finding recipes using castile soap with hard water please message me and I will work with you.

I hope this blog post has helped you in some way become more aware of the products you have in your home, and when you go to make future purchases.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know!


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