I recently told you about why it's so important to avoid phthalates. These are the endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to diabetes that you can find in a wide variety of personal care products. But phthalates are just one of a plethora of ingredients found in personal care products in the U.S. that we may be better off avoiding.
Compared to countries in the European Union, we tend to play fast and loose with what we allow in our products — and it could be killing us. In fact, the U.S. government has assessed only 11% of the over 10,000 ingredients used in personal care products to ensure that they're safe. And it's banned only 10 ingredients from cosmetics. The EU, on the other hand, has banned over 1,110 ingredients. This lack of regulation could be why one-third of the personal care products sold in the U.S. contain at least one chemical that's linked to cancer.
These numbers are scary. It means we can't rely on government oversight to keep dangerous chemicals out of the products we can pick up at any drugstore, apply all over our bodies, and even give to our children. But we shouldn't have to depend on the government for this. It's up to us to do the research to know what we should stay away from.
To make it easy, here are some of the most dangerous ingredients to avoid. In addition to phthalates, you also want to avoid parabens and toluene. This is particularly true if you're pregnant, as your body is relying on your healthy endocrine system to support the baby's development.
Next up are ethanolamines, which are restricted in Europe but have free range in the U.S. They cause skin lesions and liver and kidney tumors in mice, as well as testicular degeneration and reduced sperm motility and sperm count in other animal studies. You'll find these chemicals under names that include DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine).
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While you may use your personal care products to preserve your beauty, you don't actually need them to act as preservatives. Yet many products contain DMDM hydantoin, which releases formaldehyde. This chemical can trigger joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, chronic fatigue, and dizziness. Other countries have restricted its use, but again, not the U.S.
And while you may want your products to help you look beautiful, try not to focus too much on the actual appearance of the products themselves. In the interest of creating appealing products, many companies add FD&C color pigments and synthetic fragrances, which also have been linked to cancer. Look for unscented products whenever possible, and stay away from artificial colors as well. These will usually look something like "FD&C Red 40" on the ingredients list.
Finally, watch out for sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), triclosan, and DEET (diethyltoluamide). All of these ingredients have harmful health effects. SLS and SLES are very common in shampoos, but their main purpose is to make them foam. I'd much rather have non-foaming shampoo and good health than vice versa.
I know this is a lot to keep track of. One of your best bets to stay safe is to choose natural and organic products from trusted sources whenever possible. You may have to do some legwork up front to find good substitutes for your everyday products, but then you'll be able to stick with those brands. The benefits of doing that research and staying away from this slew of chemicals is well worth your time and effort.
All of Système 41's products are completely free of harmful chemicals. They are all-natural and very safe and healthful for your skin. In fact, we have gone to great lengths to create this product line, meeting a strong demand from our customers struggling with chemical sensitivities.
To your health, naturally,