The Dirty Thirty
I’m sure most of you have head of the “Dirty Dozen” foods that you shouldn’t consume because of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Today I want to share with you about another set of “Dirty” products that are also harmful for you.
At the Healthy Living Summit in Boston last month I had the opportunity to go to Whole Foods and hear from a woman who works on bringing health and beauty products to Whole Foods. She told us about some of the most prevalent chemicals used in health and beauty products that are actually quite dangerous for us. There are about 30 chemicals and grouped together, they are called the “Dirty Thirty.”
Here’s a chart that I put together for y’all, with the information courtesy of Glamology.
|Chemical||Function||Present in||Health Concerns|
|Aluminum Zirconium and other Aluminum Compounds||Used to control sweat and odor in the underarms by slowing down the production of sweat.||Antiperspirants. Banned by the EU.||Linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease; may be linked to breast cancer, probably neurotoxin; respiratory and development toxin.|
|Benzyl Acetate||Solvent; hidden within “fragrance.”||Many cosmetics and personal care products.||Linked to pancreatic cancer; easily absorbs into skin causing quick systemic effects; animal studies show hyperemia of the lungs; possible gastrointestinal, liver, and respiratory toxicant; possible neurotoxin.|
|Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride||Antimicrobial agent, deodorant, preservative, biocide.||Moisturizer, sunscreen, facial cleanser, acne treatment, pain relief. Restricted in Japan and Canada.||Immune system toxicant; may trigger asthma; possible organ system toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and brain nervous system, respiratory and blood effects; possible carcinogen.|
|Bronopol||Preservative.||Moisturizer, body wash, facial cleanser, makeup remover.||Immune system toxicant; lung and skin toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and gastrointestinal, brain and nervous system effects; irritant.|
|Butyl Acetate||Solvent in polishes and treatments, prevents chipping.||Nail polish and nail treatments.||Repeat exposure causes skin dryness and cracking; vapors may induce drowsiness or dizziness; flammable.|
|Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)/ Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)||Anti-oxidant; slows down the rate at which product ingredients change in color.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned by EU.||Immune system toxicant; endocrine disruptor; probable human carcinogen; animal studies show brain, liver, neurotoxin, reproductive and respiratory toxicant.|
|Ethoxylated||Surfactant, emulsifying or cleansing agent, penetration enhancer.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.||Animals studies show brain, nervous system and sense organ effects; irritant; reproductive and skin toxin, alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; may contain harmful impurities.|
|Coal Tar||Controls itching and eczema, softens and promotes the dissolution of hard, scaly, rough skin, also used in hair dyes.||Shampoo and hair dye. Banned by Canada and EU.||Known human carcinogen; skin and respiratory toxicant.|
|Cocamide DEA/Lauramide DEA||Used as foaming agents in shampoos and bath products, and as emulsifying agents in cosmetics; foaming and cleansing agents for “mouth feel”.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.||Human immune system toxicant; forms carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds if mixed with nitrosating agents; animals studies show sense organ effects and skin irritation; may contain harmful impurities.|
|Diethanolamine (DEA)||pH adjuster.||Sunscreen, moisturizer, foundation, hair color.||Skin and immune system toxicant; possible carcinogen; irritant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and neuro developmental, brain and nervous system effects; may trigger asthma.|
|Ethyl Acetate||Solvent.||Nail polish products, mascara, tooth whitening, perfume.||Probably neurotoxin; possible nervous system toxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; highly flammable.|
|Formaldehyde||Disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, preservative.||Deodorant, nail polish, soap, shampoo, shaving cream. Restricted in Canada. Banned by EU.||Immune system, respiratory, hematological, and skin toxicant; probably carcinogen and cardiovascular toxicant; can damage DNA; may trigger asthma; animal studies show sense organ, brain, and nervous system effects; possible human development toxicant.|
|Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives (Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea and Imidazolidinyl Urea)||Anti-microbial preservative.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.||Sames as formaldehyde. May contain harmful impurities.|
|Fragrance (Parfum)||Deodorant, masking, perfuming.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.||Immune system toxicant; possible neurotoxin; can contain between 10 and 300 different chemicals, many of which have never been tested for safety; see phthalates. Labeling can be confusing. If uncertain, check with manufacturer.|
|Hydroquinone||Antioxidant, fragrance ingredient, skin bleaching agent, hair colorant.||Skin fading/lightener, facial moisturizer, anti-aging, sunscreen, hair color, facial cleanser. Restricted in Canada.||Immune system toxicant; probable neurotoxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; animals studies show endocrine disruption.|
|Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamte||Preservative.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Restricted in Japan.||Human toxicant; possible liver, immune system toxin; allergenic.|
|Lead and Lead Compounds||Colorant.||Hair dye, hair products, Traces found in some red lipstick. Restricted in Canada.||Probably carcinogen; developmental, respiratory, gastrointestinal and reproductive toxicant; reduced fertility; animal studies show metabolic, brain and nervous system effects, suspected nano-scale ingredients with potential to absorb into the skin.|
|Methylisothiazolinone (MI/MCI/MIT) and Methychloroisothiazolinone||Preservative||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Restricted in Canada and Japan.||Immune system toxicant; animal studies show restricted growth of the axons and dendrites of immature nerves, neurotoxicity and positive mutation results; can lead to a malfunction in the way neurons communicate with each other; especially detrimental to a developing nervous system.|
|Parabens (Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl, and Butyl)||Preservative and anti-bacterial agent.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.||May alter hormone levels, possibly increasing risk for certain types of cancer, impaired fertility, or alteration of the development of a fetus or young child; studies have found parabens in breast tumors; probably skin toxicant; animal studies show brain and nervous system effects.|
|Petrolatum||Forms barrier on skin; makes lipsticks shine and creams smoother; inexpensive skin softener.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned by EU.||May be contaminated with impurities, linked to cancer or other significant health problems.|
|Phthalates (Dibutyl Phthalates)||Fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, solvent.||Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned by EU.||Immune system toxicant; developmental and reproductive toxin; respiratory toxicant; probably neurotoxin; possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor; bio-accumulative in wildlife.|
Armed with that somewhat overwhelming chart, I gathered together some of my most frequently used cosmetic products (skincare, haircare, etc.) to check their ingredient lists to see which contain any of the “Dirty Thirty” chemicals.
You may notice the lack of makeup in that pile. I wear it so rarely that I honestly didn’t even think about grabbing my mascara, lipstick, etc. I’ll check them another time but something tells me they won’t get off scot-free.
Anywho, so armed with the list, a pen and my notebook, I started going through each product one by one.
First up was the Coconut Lime Verbena body lotion from Bath and Body Works. Here’s what I found:
- propylene glycol
- imidazolidinyl urea
Kinda scary when you check the associated health concerns: links to increased risk of cancers, altered hormones, damaged immune and respiratory systems, possible neurotoxin, brain and nervous system effects. EEK!
Next I checked out the Summer Vanilla Apricot Lotion, also from Bath and Body Works (I have a lot from BBW!)
- diazolidinyl urea
Petrolatum has been linked to cancer, parabens can alter the development of a fetus or young child and have been found in breast tumours, and the fragrance can contain between 10 and 300 different chemicals.
I continued on through all the products and each one contained at least 2 “Dirty Thirty” ingredients.
I’m definitely going to be taking steps to get rid of or at least minimize my exposure to these ingredients. I’ve started by switching out my deoderant to a more friendly one (still has a couple of the chemicals) and I am no longer willing to use anti-perspirant. Turns out AP has been linked to cancers because it actually traps toxins in your body. People, you are supposed to sweat! I feel like I should start a “Free the Sweat” campaign. Because we all sweat. It is normal. It is healthy. Yet why do we get embarassed by it? I am more concerned when I don’t sweat.
But I digress.
My plan is to use up as many of these products as I can though some have been tossed because they were kinda old. When I replace my lotions, toothpaste, deoderant, etc. I will be looking for more human-friendly versions or may even try to make my own. I know it isn’t going to be as convenient as walking into a store and just grabbing whatever is on sale and it may be more expensive for some items, but the trade-off is that I won’t potentially be making myself unnecessarily sick.
Anybody have product recommendations or recipes for homemade products you could send my way? Anyone else trying to clean-up their cosmetic products as well?