It seems like every health and beauty company is touting a new line of all-natural, organic personal care products. Is this organic trend just a bunch of hype? Why should you make the switch to organic, all-natural personal care products? I have three words for you: phthalates, parabens, and formaldehyde.
Though studies have shown these chemicals are harmful, the government does not require companies to remove them from their products. Manufacturers of personal care products do not need to list the specific chemicals that make up their fragrances (as in the case of phthalates) or the chemicals that are created in their products during the manufacturing process (formaldehyde).
Phthalates in Personal Care Products
Yes, phthalates is a real word, and one that describes some nasty chemicals. They are used as softeners in cosmetics and shampoos and are also found in fragrances. A 2008 study found high levels of phthalates in babies who had been recently washed with baby shampoo or doused with baby powder or baby lotion.
Phthalates may affect the endocrine systems of young boys, especially when the boys’ mothers had high levels of phthalates in their systems during pregnancy. Due to this risk, Congress banned high levels of BP, DEHP, and DBP phthalates in personal care products. The EPA is considering adding another eight to its “Chemicals of Concern” list.
Look for “No phthalates” or “phthalate-free” labels on personal care products to avoid phthalates. Remember that companies do not need to disclose the chemicals in their fragrances. “Parfum” and “fragrance” in the ingredient list typically indicate the presence of phthalates.
Parabens in Personal Care Products
Parabens are another concern. They are used as a preservative and are incredibly common in moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, and makeup. The CDC has found parabens in the systems of virtually every American it has surveyed. In a 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), all teenaged participants tested positive for two particular parabens: methylparaben and propylparaben.
There is no conclusive evidence that links parabens to cancer, but a European research group found that longer-chain parabens may affect the endocrine system. To spot parabens, look for ingredients that end in “-paraben.”
Formaldehyde in Personal Care Products
That’s right—the chemicals used to preserve your high school science dissection experiment is in your cosmetics, baby shampoo, baby bubble bath, and baby lotion. Formaldehyde causes skin and respiratory irritation at low levels and may cause cancer at high levels.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to avoid formaldehyde in personal care products. It is usually a byproduct of the manufacturing process, not an intentional ingredient.
Organic products are free of these harmful chemicals. This school year, consider making the switch to safer, all-natural personal care products for yourself and your family. For recommendations for some great products, contact me today or visit www.getgreenwithgene.com!
Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!
Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance