Throw These Bathroom Items Away…Now
Most bathrooms are chock full of products: things for your body, things for your face, things to clean with, etc.
Unfortunately, some of the ingredients that typically appear in the some of the products we use daily — such as shampoo, sunscreen and commercial household cleaners — are best avoided, according to general scientific consensus.
Throw Away: Products With Parabens
Parare a synthetic preservative and antimicrobial agent commonly found in personal-care products with high water content: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, cleansers and body wash. They also turn up in solid products like deodorant. They appear as methyl-, ethyl-, butyl- or propylparaben. Studies have found that parabens mimic estrogen in the body and disrupt normal hormone function, and they have been found in breast-tumor biopsies.
Growing awareness about parabens has inspired a number of manufacturers to banish them in favor of safer preservatives, while some have simply accepted a shorter shelf life as the price of doing healthy business. You can often find personal-care products labeled “paraben free,” which will save you a little squinting in the product aisle. Signers of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics have committed to avoiding their use; you can find the list of these companies at www.safecosmetics.org.
Throw Away: Products With Phthalates
Phthalates are plasticizers that stabilize scent in perfume and color in cosmetics; they also keep nail polish from chipping. You won’t find them listed on most labels, though they can be present in almost every conceivable personal-care item hidden in the ingredient “fragrance.” (Company formulas are legally protected as proprietary information.) Multiple studies have linked phthalates to depression of normal thyroid function and birth defects, mostly affecting the genital development of young boys and sperm counts in adult men.
Two kinds of phthalates commonly found in cosmetics were banned in the EU with its recent cosmetic safety directive, forcing international companies to reformulate their products for the European market. A number of nail polish manufacturers have removed the “toxic trio” — dibutyl phthalate, toluene (a solvent and neurotoxin) and formaldehyde — from their nail polish formulas. Still, it’s smart to view nail polish and products with caution, especially if you’re pregnant. Water-based polishes are the most benign option.
Throw Away: Products With Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is a synthetic detergent and foaming agent connected to skin and eye irritation. It’s also linked to the byproduct 1-4 dioxane, a suspected carcinogenic contaminant produced by the ethoxylation process, used to make some ingredients less harsh. (Sodium lauryl sulfate is converted to sodium laureth sulfate, for example.) Ethoxylation is one reason why so many “gentler” products — those with a natural slant or made especially for kids — have turned up surprisingly high levels of toxins.