Toxic chemicals in mom’s body pass through to the baby.
Creating a healthy environment for our kids doesn’t start with the food we feed them, the personal products we use to keep them clean, the air they breathe or the materials we use to clothe them. It starts with their very first home – mom.
So many things in mom’s body pass through to the baby during development in the womb, it’s extremely important for mom to make the right decisions about her own food, her personal care products, the air she breathes and the materials she uses for clothes.
For the uninitiated, it might seem difficult to figure all that out. Especially with the rampant ‘green-washing’ – labels that make a product look safe for us and for the environment when, in fact, it’s not.
Let’s take personal body care products – soaps, lotions, shampoos, body lotions, cosmetics, and so on – as an example.
Are Body Care Products with Natural Ingredients Safe?
You’ve probably seen many personal body care product with special labels – not just the ingredients list, but a little special announcement on the front of the container. They say the product is made with or contains aloe vera, coconut oil, honey, natural botanical extracts, shea butter, lavender, milk, essential oils, Vitamin E, or any number of ingredients that seem, and may well be, natural, or even organic.
A perfect example of green-washing. And very effective on those who are not aware of green-washing techniques.
When I first saw these products on the shelf I was still uneducated in this arena. I bought them and used them, pretty proud of myself for taking the high road with my health.
Then I looked into things a little more and, what do you know, it turned out that the aloe vera, shea butter or botanical extracts only represented a tiny fraction of the ingredients. Many of the remaining ingredients were either proven to be toxic or were linked to diseases of various sorts – even though the cause and effect had not been fully established.
That ‘fully established’ thing can be really tricky. Sure, they haven’t proven it’s going to kill you, but when there’s a lot of evidence pointing in that direction, why take the chance?!
Don’t be Fooled by Green-washing – Read and Understand the Ingredients
Okay – reading the ingredients is one thing, pronouncing them another, and understanding their significance yet another. Fortunately, we don’t all have to quit our jobs and spend all of our time researching chemicals – plenty of others are already doing that, that’s their job.
One of the best sources of such information – which chemicals are safe in personal care products and which are not – is the Environmental Working Group.
Here’s a list from them – chemicals you should avoid in personal care products and cosmetics – which I edited for the sake of brevity. More info on these chemicals is available on a special page of EWG’s website, under “Shopping tips by ingredients”:
BHA: Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen (agent that causes cancer). Can cause skin depigmentation, liver damage, stomach cancers, reproductive and hormonal system malfunction.
Boric acid and Sodium borate: Disrupts hormones, harms the male reproductive system, causes testicular damage to mice, rats, and dogs in studies.
Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients (including Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine): A known human carcinogen.
Formaldehyde: A known human carcinogen, causes asthma, neurotoxin, developmental toxin.
Formaldehyde releasers – Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15: They kill bacteria, but they also generate formaldehyde. Enough said.
Fragrance: Can contain hormone disruptors. Fragrances are also among the top 5 allergens in the world. Recent research from EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name brand fragrance products, none of them listed on the label.
Hydroquinone: Tumor development and a skin disease called ochronosis –blue-black lesions that, in the worst cases, become permanent black caviar-size bumps.
Lead: This neurotoxin relates mostly to men as it is found in Grecian Formula 16 and other men’s black hair dyes for men. But the lead from the dyes travels from hair to doorknobs, cabinets and other household items which when touched, may be absorbed through the skin of women and children.
Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone: Preservatives. Among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact allergy. Lab studies on mammalian brain cells suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.
Nanoparticles: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles appear to be among the safer and more effective active ingredients in U.S.-marketed sunscreen creams because they do not penetrate the skin. But avoid sprays and powders containing these nanoparticles, which could penetrate your lungs and enter your bloodstream.
Oxybenzone: Linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies. Can cause decreased birth weight among newborn baby girls and greater birth weight in newborn boys. Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system.
Parabens (specifically Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl-, and Isobutyl- parabens): Mimic estrogen, disrupting the endocrine system and causing reproductive and developmental disorders.
PEGs/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds: Frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable human carcinogen.
Petroleum distillates: May cause contact dermatitis and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities.
Phthalates: Studies indicate damage to the male reproductive system.
Resorcinol: Skin irritant, toxic to the immune system and frequent cause of hair dye allergy. Can disrupt normal thyroid function.
Toluene: Generally found in nail polish, exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may impair fetal development. Associated with toxicity to the immune system, and possibly linked to malignant lymphoma.
Triclosan & Triclocarban: Disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones.
Vitamin A compounds (retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinol): When applied to sun-exposed skin these compounds can increase skin sensitivity. Sunlight breaks down vitamin A to produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and hasten skin lesions and tumors in lab animals.
Many of these chemicals stay in the body for a very long time. So, if you’re pregnant, or could become so, make sure you don’t fall for those green-washing labels. Instead, always check the ingredients in your personal care products and choose products that you know are safe for yourself and your baby.
In fact, everyone should do this. Why take a chance with potential poisons being absorbed into your body?