In my last past, I discussed my DIY efforts to rid bathroom of toxic-filled products in order to reduce the chemical load on my body.
However, I didn’t discuss what kinds of toxins are found in common products, or what those toxins do to the human body, or even what the word “toxic” means. Although there has been a lot of research showing that the chemicals used in everyday products are harmful to your system, we are still unsure of how this affects US exactly. For myself, I am still learning a tremendous amount in this area.
So, I decided to share what I have learned so far regarding toxins, chemicals, and how they are used in products that we buy all the time.
What does “toxic” mean?
There are generally speaking, four types of toxins: chemical, biological, physical and of course, radiation. For the purposes of this blog post, we will be dealing with the first type, chemical.
Chemical toxins are substances such as lead, mercury, formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine, parabens, aluminum, talc, phthalates, triclosan, and propylene glycol (and all the derivatives of these substances) that are dangerous to your health when ingested, absorbed or inhaled.
Here are some common products that we all buy and use: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant and lotion.
In those products, here are a few ingredients you will find within:
- sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)
- (to name a few)
Let’s all be honest…while all of those chemicals sound bad, what do they actually do to your body?
For an example, let us choose shampoo and conditioner (something that we all use on a constant basis). Common brands (such as those you would find at Wal-Mart or any other major store) usually have sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan, polyethylene glycol, and fragrance added. SLS has been linked to cancer, liver damage and depression. Triclosan can disrupt major organs and cause skin, eye and lung irritation. Polyethylene glycol has been directly linked to cancer, and the fragrance can clog the lymphatic system and cause major toxicity to organs.
Shampoo and conditioner are products you use constantly, and these toxins are just a few of the ingredients you will find in each bottle. When you consider how much you use these particular products, the results from putting these chemicals into your body becomes extremely concerning.
Now, let’s move on to toothpaste. Keep in mind that your mouth is highly absorbent and that during the span of one lifetime, one human being uses approximately 20 gallons of toothpaste.
Toothpaste often contains triclosan, SLS, artificial sweeteners, fluoride, and propylene glycol. Triclosan, as we have already discussed, has been linked to cancer. SLS is registered as an insecticide and has also been linked to cancer, as well as liver damage. Artificial sweeteners (most commonly, aspartame) can cause a type of poisoning in your body, resulting in gastrointestinal problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and ear buzzing. Fluoride, once absorbed into your system, causes a mirage of issues such as neurological and endocrine dysfunction. Propylene glycol is used not only in toothpaste, but in antifreeze, paints, enamels and the de-icers for aircraft. This little gem is an irritant to skin, eyes and lungs and can cause major organ toxicity.
What about that body lotion that we all use? I admit, this one was hard for me. I loved my Bath and Body lotion and used it religiously. The harmful chemicals found in standards lotions include parabens, TEA and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole). Parabens, as previously discussed, have been linked to breast cancer. TEA, also previously discussed, causes kidney and liver damage. BHA can interfere with hormone function and has been linked to cancer.
Moving on to another item that we all use daily: deodorant. The main concern in deodorant is aluminum, but other concerns include parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan, and TEA/DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine). Aluminum has been linked to breast cancer and may possible alter your body’s DNA. It has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, bone disorders and kidney problems. Parabens have also been linked to breast cancer. Propylene glycol and triclosan have already been discussed. TEA and DEA can cause kidney and liver damage as well as allergic reactions; in fact, both of these chemicals have been banned in Europe, due to their known effects.
The harmful chemicals discussed are truly just the tip of the iceberg. For the sake of brevity in this blog post, I have chosen a few common bathroom products, but I encourage my readers to look into more than the items on your counter.
Interested in switching from toxic to natural? Let’s keep in mind: change takes time, especially when you are facing multiple products that you no longer want to use due to their harmful qualities. For myself, it’s one step at a time. I started with changing my shampoo, and have gradually moved on to changing conditioner, deodorant, body scrub, body lotion, face wash, eye makeup remover, eye cream, lip balm and nail polish. After realizing that what went on my skin went into my body, I decided to start switching to all-natural products as quickly as time, money and energy allowed. That’s really all that any of us can do!
So now you are aware of what the term “toxic” means and how it can affect you and your daily life. The journey continues towards better health in every way!