Endocrine disruptors are lurking everywhere we turn today. It is hard to pick up a bottle of shampoo or a mascara at the pharmacy without having to worry about hidden toxins. In this post, I am going to shed some light on some of the hidden endocrine disruptors in everyday cosmetics. These are important to know about because living a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about what we put into our body it is also about the products that we choose to use on our body.
Avoiding these toxins can help protect your hormone balance and are especially important for anyone suffering from thyroid disease or any other autoimmune condition.
Let’s start by talking about what endocrine disruptors are and why we need to avoid them.
What are Endocrine Disruptors?
Endocrine disruptors can be defined as chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system. These chemicals can be found in many different products, not just cosmetics. The issue with these disruptors is that they can cause major issues in the body and some of these endocrine disruptors are carcinogenic. They can also cause immune disruption and even neurological problems.
Let’s take a look at some of these toxins so that you can be on the lookout and keep them out of your life as best as you can! I will also share some of my favorite non-toxic options that I commonly recommend to my patients.
The Endocrine Disruptors in Everyday Cosmetics
Parabens are one of the most talked about endocrine disruptors commonly found in cosmetics. These are found in things like shampoos, conditioners, lotion, and even face cleaners. Since parabens are not water soluble they are able to penetrate the skin which is a major issue due to the dangers parabens have on the endocrine system. Parabens can cause endocrine disruption and even reproductive issues which is why many pregnant women are cautioned against using products with parabens in them.
Another issue with parabens is that they are found under many different names so it can be challenging to determine if a product contains parabens or not. Some of the common names to look out for include butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, and methylparaben. Just avoid anything that has a paraben at the end of it.
Phthalates are another commonly added toxin in modern day cosmetic products. These are chemical compounds that are added to things like plastic as well as cosmetics and even find their way into some food products. (1) They can get into our food if we consume things like butter or milk from plastic containers that contain this harmful chemical.
A major problem with these toxins is that they can be absorbed in the body through both the air and the skin so cosmetic products are not the only things we have to worry about here. When talking about cosmetics, you will want to avoid things like perfumes, as well as moisturizers, eye shadows, nail polishes, shampoos, and conditioners that contain phthalates.
Phthalates are dangerous as they have been linked to reproductive disruption in both men and women. To steer clear of this chemical, avoid plastic containers and water bottles, and use as many homemade hair and skin care products as possible. I will be sharing some of my favorites so keep reading.
#3 Synthetic Colors
Believe it or not many synthetic colors are found in beauty products and they are added to make a product look more appealing. Think about things like hair dye, eye shadow, eye liner, and lipstick just to name a few. Many of these products contain harmful coloring that contain carcinogenic properties.
#4 Synthetic Fragrances
Fragrances are found in just about every cosmetic and beauty product you will find and they can cause some significant health issues. One of the many issues with synthetic fragrance is that they cause allergic responses to those that are sensitive. Not only that, but the chemicals that are used in synthetic fragrance are scary. It is estimated that approximately 95% of the chemicals used in these fragrances come from crude oil. They also include carcinogenic chemicals and chemicals that are linked to causing disruptions in many different body systems. (2)
One of the tricky things about avoiding these synthetic fragrances is that they are often just labeled as “fragrance” on a product label. This doesn’t give you the whole story about how many of these added fragrances can cause endocrine disruption that could lead to hormonal imbalance and even lead to weight gain. The rule of thumb is to be very cautious with any product that says it contains “fragrance.” This could be the same name used for thousands of different chemical ingredients and you don’t even know which one is in the product that you are purchasing and using on your body. Keep in mind that when you purchase these products and use them on your body, the chemicals in the synthetic fragrances have the ability to get into your bloodstream and not only cause endocrine disruption but many of the chemicals are carcinogenic and can cause nervous system disorders.
So, how do you avoid these fragrances? For one, avoid anything that has a label containing the words “fragrance” or “parfum.” You will also want to avoid using any air fresheners including plug in air fresheners, dryer sheets, candles, and many cosmetic and self-care products like deodorant. Now, I know that is a long list of things to avoid but it doesn’t mean you can’t still safely wear makeup, or deodorant it just means that you need to be selective with the options that you choose. I will share some of my favorites with you so you can see just how easy it is to avoid these toxic chemicals.
#5 Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Commonly referred to as SLS, sodium lauryl sulfate is found in most shampoos, however, the scary thing is that is it also the same chemical found in many floor cleaners and even engine degreasers. It is crazy to think that an industrial product like SLS would be allowed to wind up in our bottle of shampoo or hand soap. SLS has been linked to endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and even cancer. (3) The best way to avoid this chemical is to opt for shampoos, body washes, hand soaps, and toothpaste brands that are labeled as “SLS free.”
What to Use Instead
Now that you know what you need to be eliminating from your beauty routine and what chemicals to be on the lookout for when picking up products at the store, what can you use instead?
The great news is that there are some safe and natural alternatives that will work just as well as what you may be used to without the harmful effects endocrine disruptors have on the body. Let’s take a look at some of these options.
One of my favorite non-toxic options for beauty and self-care products is the use of essential oils. These oils are great alternatives to fragrance. I love to use Young Living Essential Oils and then mix a couple of drops of their Endoflex oil with coconut oil and use it as my moisturizer. I completely avoid any store-bought product this way and it smells so much better than anything that would come out of a synthetic lotion bottle!
I also love to diffuse essential oils which is a great option for anyone who enjoys lighting candles but wants to avoid the artificial fragrances. The trick with essential oils is to get high-grade pure oils. You won’t want to buy the ones you see at your local grocery store as these are not going to be pure grade. Like I said, my favorite options are the essential oils from Young Living.
Beauty counter is a great resource for getting some non-toxic beauty products. You can find cosmetics and then things like shampoos and conditions where you can read the labels and find something that is free from SLS, phthalates, parabens, synthetic colors, and fragrances.
Young Living Cleaning Products
Young Living has a great line of home cleaning products and laundry detergent that are scented with essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.
Homemade House Cleaning Products
If you are feeling adventurous and want to stay away from all store-bought options, you can always make your own house cleaning products and you can even make your own deodorant. A great way to make a homemade hand soap or all-purpose cleaning spray is to use some castile soap and a few drops of essential oil. You can also make your own homemade deodorant using coconut oil, baking soda, shea butter, and essential oil.
Toxins are found everywhere and the more educated we are about the products that we put on and in our body, the better we can protect our body. As you can see many of the beauty products found today are filled with endocrine disruptors and even carcinogenic chemicals so we want to avoid them at all costs.
Make the switch to more natural and organic options to help safeguard your health for the future. Remember that what we put on our body can be just as harmful as what we put into our body.
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(1) Dr. Axe. Phthalates: Dangerous Chemical Toxins That Must be Avoided
(2) Dr. Axe. Dangers of Synthetic Scents Include Cancer, Asthma, Kidney Damage and More.
(3) LiveStrong (2015) Dangers of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Endocrine Disruptors
Safe Cosmetics.org. Parabens