Watch out for these toxins found in foods, beauty, and skin care products.
You’ve probably heard the Latin term caveat emptor, which means “Let the buyer beware.” This is good advice as you look for ways to reduce your exposure to harmful toxins and unhealthy ingredients.
Just because a substance is legal, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. So be sure to read the labels of whatever you’re buying.
Here’s a list of seven common chemicals you should watch out for.
Parabens: Used as preservatives in several cosmetic products. They can interfere with hormone signaling and have been linked to impaired fertility in women. In particular, avoid the “long-chained” varieties, such as propylparaben or butylparaben. One place to really watch for parabens are in your deodorant. A while back we posted a recipe for toxin-free deodorant made with simple items from your pantry.
Lead Compounds: Despite lead being commonly known as a dangerous neurotoxin, it still manages to find its way into many products. As many as 85% of drinks marketed towards children contain potentially harmful levels of lead; in addition, several name-brand hair dyes contain lead acetate. Both of these products, if used or consumed, have a high risk of increasing the body’s lead levels.
Bisphenol A (BPA): A synthetic hormone that is found in 92% of canned goods, both organic and non. This chemical is particularly dangerous to infants and young children. Treehugger.com outlines 7 companies that use BPA free cans.
Hidden trans fats: Yes, I know you’ve been beaten over the head with how bad trans fats are for you. And you are probably aware that even the smallest amounts of it can contribute to cardiovascular disease and a rise in cholesterol levels. Well, did you know that companies can legally claim their product is “trans-fat free” if there are .49 or fewer grams of trans fats per serving? Check your labels: make sure whatever you’re buying was made with safe oils like olive, canola, or coconut.
Benzoyl Peroxide: Causes DNA damage in humans and is toxic if inhaled. It’s a common ingredient in most acne products. Did you know that our skin absorbs about 60% of what we put on it? And that DNA damage is what leads to cancer?
Triclosan: An antibacterial agent found in toothpastes, liquid hand soaps, and body washes, among other things. It interferes with the body’s hormone signaling, especially thyroid activity and male/female hormone signals.
Palm Oil: Okay, this last one isn’t harmful to your body, per se (though it is quite high in cholesterol), but it’s still an ingredient to watch out for. Why? Palm oil has gotten much more popular over the last couple years, meaning that the environmentally devastating techniques used to harvest it have also increased. Much of the destruction of Southeast Asia’s rain forests and endangerment of local animals is because of the growing demand for this commodity. Limiting that demand is the first step to stopping the devastation.
So be smart and read the small print on those labels.
Photo credit: Profumi by ubik2010