The US has not passed a law regulating personal care products since 1938. Since then, more than 80,000 chemicals have been introduced into products on store shelves. Only 10% of these have been tested for human safety. The FDA allows chemicals known to cause cancer including parabens, phalates, formaldehyde, lead and more to be used in products we use on ourselves and our families each day. The very product that is intended to “clean” or “beautify” can make you toxic and actually harm your health. While it is impossible to peg the escalating incidence of serious health issues to any one thing, research indicates that toxic chemicals play a role. Exposure to environmental toxins happens through our physical environment (houses, workplaces, schools, and parks); food and water; and our cleaning products, our furniture, and our cosmetics.
For many chemicals, a single exposure is unlikely to cause serious harm, but over time, small doses add up. The deodorant we wear, the food we eat, and the soap we use often contain harmful chemicals that can enter our bodies, hide away in our bones or fat, and build up over time. To make matters even more complicated, some chemicals can be more harmful in combination with other chemicals. The impacts of these chemicals may not be apparent for years.
Not all chemicals are bad (water, after all, is a chemical), but some chemicals are toxic, and even tiny doses can be incredibly potent. Chemicals that disrupt the endocrine (or hormone) system are most dangerous in small doses, as they mimic the way our bodies naturally interact with hormones. And when our bodies are undergoing certain periods of development (in the womb, during infancy, puberty), we are more susceptible to hormone disruption, which can have big health effects later in life.
How do I know if my body care products are safe?
It can be a little tricky to figure out if your body care and cosmetic products are safe. It is crucial to do a little homework and familiarize yourself with common toxic ingredients. Labels are often misleading and reading the ingredient list is necessary to find non-toxic, safe products. Labels like “all natural”, “clean”, or “safe for sensitive skin” are all completely unregulated and meaningless. But don’t get overwhelmed! There are some very helpful resources to help you quickly and easily check your products for safety.
Here is a quick list of ingredients to avoid:
- Parabens like Propylparaben and Iosbutylparaben
- Chemical UV filters Octinoxate and Oxybenzone
- Diethanolamine (DEA)
- Phthalates like Dibutyl phthalate
- Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)
- Polyethylene (PEGs) like PEG-10 laurate
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
You can also download one of these apps to do the work for you! Simply scan the barcode or or search the product and get an overview of the ingredients and safety of the product. They also recommend products that have been verified as safe and non-toxic.
EWG (Environmental Working Group) Healthy Living App
Think Dirty App
At Tree of Life you can know that we have done the work for you. We understand that what we put on our body can be just as important as what goes into it. We pride ourselves on the safe, clean, non-toxic and effective products we carry. Stop in or shop online with us!