What’s lurking in your beauty products?

We are so delighted to be able to share with you a very interesting article, which has been written by the team at Wellbeing Sisters.

Wellbeing Sisters offers a platform, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of every woman at every stage of womanhood. This fascinating piece explores the everyday chemicals and toxins that we should aim to avoid in our beauty products. 

Read the full article below…

 

Did you know, many of the personal products that we use on a daily basis are full of potentially harmful chemicals that can have implications for our health?

When looking to optimise your health and wellbeing, some of the first steps you may take are to adjust your diet, nutrition, exercise and relaxation routines. But what about making changes to your perfumes, skincare, makeup and personal toiletries? Could shaking up your beauty regime also improve your health and wellness?

Scientific studies are increasingly highlighting the association between the environmental chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis, and poor health outcomes. Although the European Commission regulates the use of chemical ingredients in cosmetic products, the worry voiced by many health professionals is that cumulatively – with exposure from multiple personal care products – we are building up extensive levels of these chemicals in our bodies, which can potentially damage our health.

When looking to optimise your health and wellbeing, some of the first steps you may take are to adjust your diet, nutrition, exercise and relaxation routines. But what about making changes to your perfumes, skincare, makeup and personal toiletries? Could shaking up your beauty regime also improve your health and wellness?

Scientific studies are increasingly highlighting the association between the environmental chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis, and poor health outcomes. Although the European Commission regulates the use of chemical ingredients in cosmetic products, the worry voiced by many health professionals is that cumulatively, with exposure from multiple personal care products, we are building up extensive levels of these chemicals in our bodies, which can potentially damage our health.

Given that the average woman uses 12 personal care products each day, the ingredients these contain should be an important consideration when looking to make health-boosting lifestyle changes.

Googling every ingredient in your bathroom cabinet does perhaps sounds a little mind-boggling, so to help you get started, here’s a handy checklist of seven of the key chemicals linked to poor health that you should try to avoid wherever possible:

1. BHA/BHT: BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are synthetic chemical compounds that have antioxidising effects. They are often found in cosmetic products such as lipsticks, deodorants, hair gels/creams, and moisturisers where they act as a preservative – prolonging shelf-life. Studies have shown BHA and BHT act as endocrine disruptors, interfering with our normal hormone systems, having oestrogenic (mimicking oestrogen) and anti-androgenic (testosterone-blocking) effects. This can mean shorter menstrual cycles, which could impact our ability to conceive, and can also cause symptoms such as hot flashes in pre-menopausal women, and earlier age onset of menopause.

BHT also irritates the eyes, skin and respiratory system; with long-term exposure to high doses of BHT linked to liver, thyroid and kidney problems, impaired lung function, blood coagulation issues, and (in certain situations) tumour growth.

Label lookouts: BHA, butylated hydroxyanisole, BHT, butylated hydroxytoluene, dibutylhydroxytoluene.

 


2. Butylphenyl Methylpropional: Often labelled as ‘lilial’, butylphenyl methylpropional synthetically replicates the aroma of the lily of the valley flower. It is found in everything from hair products and deodorants, to perfumes, hand soaps, and scented candles. Butylphenyl methylpropional is a known dermal and respiratory irritant, and can also be harmful to developing foetuses exposed through their mother’s use of products containing the chemical.

Although use is regulated, a discussion from The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety published in May 2019 indicated the aggregate exposure to this chemical arising from the use of multiple products meant that at the current regulated concentrations, butylphenyl methylpropional could not be considered as safe.

Label lookouts: butylphenyl methylpropional, lilial, lily aldehyde.

 


3. Parabens: Parabens are synthetic compounds used in many health and beauty products as a preservative to prolong shelf-life. Parabens are endocrine-disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), that can mimic oestrogen, interfering with the body’s normal hormone function. This can impact egg and embryo quality for those trying to conceive, and parabens have even been linked to increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Moreover, long-term daily use of skincare products containing parabens, and especially methylparaben, can lead to changes in the skin’s natural cell growth, weakening it and causing issues such as premature skin ageing.

As Parabens are readily absorbed through the skin, be sure to check the labels on those body creams, perfumes and shampoos! The simplest rule of thumb is to go for products specifically advertised as ‘paraben-free’.

Label lookouts: parabens, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

 


4. Phthalates: Phthalates are a group of chemicals known as plasticizers as they are mainly used to soften plastics. Although most phthalates are now banned from use in cosmetics as they interfere with hormone function, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is still used in many beauty products to help fragrances last longer. Phthalates may not always appear in ingredient lists, however, if you find ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on a label without further explanation as to the source, there may well be phthalates lurking.

Phthalates can decrease thyroid hormone levels in the body, which could be particularly problematic during early pregnancy, when the foetal brain depends entirely on its mother’s thyroid hormone supply. Data has even linked the risk of hormonally-mediated disease, such as endometriosis, to phthalates.

Aside from being used in perfumes and personal care products, phthalates are also commonly found in cleaning products. As a general rule, avoiding heavily perfumed products all round is a good move.

Label lookouts: diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), ‘fragrance/parfum’ where source has not been clarified, for example ‘natural essential oils’.

 


5. Polyacrylamide: Polyacrylamide is sometimes used as a thickener, foaming agent or lubricant in cosmetic lotions. Although not considered risky in itself, the controversy surrounding polyacrylamide usage comes from its potential to secrete acrylamide molecules as it breaks down. Acrylamide is a known toxin and has been associated with problems in foetal development. It is also a suspected carcinogen, and several studies have found an association between acrylamide exposure and risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers, as well as risk of a specific type of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

Although acrylamide itself is banned from use in cosmetics in the EU, and use of polyacrylamide is regulated to strict levels to ensure exposure to residual acrylamide is reduced, it might be worth avoiding polyacrylamide altogether, and switching to lotions that don’t run the risk of containing acrylamide.

Label lookouts: polyacrylamide, acrylamide, polyacrylate, polyquaternium and acrylate.

 


6. Triclosan: Triclosan (TSC) is an antibacterial agent most often found in hand soaps, toothpastes, hand sanitisers, deodorants and mouthwashes. Studies have shown that exposure to triclosan can impact oestrogenic activity, and decrease thyroid hormone levels.

Research has also indicated that TSC can disrupt the gut’s microbiome (the naturally occurring bacteria found in our intestines) which plays a crucial role in helping to control digestion, boosting immunity, and impacts brain function and behaviour.

Pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers should especially try to avoid TSC containing products as there has been evidence to suggest that TSC accumulates in breast milk, as well as it being present in blood samples taken from infants’ umbilical cords – meaning foetuses and babies are also at risk of being exposed to TSC’s health-disrupting effects.

Label lookouts: triclosan (TSC), triclocarban (TCC).

 


7. Toluene: Found in nail varnishes and hair dyes, toluene is used to give your polish a smooth finish on your nail. Some studies have indicated toluene has been linked to reproductive damage in females, as well as pregnancy loss. Breathing in toluene vapours can also cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, headache, sickness, memory problems, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Not overdoing the manicures and pedicures (especially when TTC and during pregnancy) is a good start, as well as switching to polishes that don’t contain toluene.

Label lookouts: toluene also listed as methylbenzene, phenylmethane or toluol; toluene-2,5-diamine, toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate, toluene-3,4-diamine (hair dyes).

 

The idea that your current beauty products might contain these chemicals and in some way be affecting your health may sound scary, but try not to panic! Remember, it’s all about making changes where you can to reduce your risk. Arming yourself with the right information, checking your labels and switching to products that don’t contain the harmful ingredients listed above is a great first step.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wellbeing Sisters…

Backed by a team of experts, Wellbeing Sisters is the first online platform solely dedicated to
improving the health and wellbeing of every woman at every stage of womanhood through
conscious, clean living, targeted nutrition, and both physical and emotional wellness. Every
beauty and lifestyle product in the Wellbeing Sisters shop is safe to use whilst TTC and
pregnant. You’ll also find a selection of nutritional products and supplements to enhance
wellbeing and boost fertile health. Whether simply wanting to look and feel your best, or
seeking bespoke support whilst going through a specific life stage such as trying to conceive,
pregnancy, motherhood or the menopause, Wellbeing Sisters are there for every woman,
every step of the way.

Sisters Natasha and Jessica started Wellbeing Sisters (formerly Fertilibox) after making
significant changes to their own lifestyles – most notably cutting out harmful chemicals and
toxins that could interfere with their hormone systems. They were astounded by the
remarkable health benefits they experienced, and thus began their journey to empower every
woman with the right information to improve their own health – because every woman
deserves to thrive. For more information and to read more about their story, head to their
website.

Fancy treating yourself or your loved ones to some beauty products, which are free from all potentially harmful ingredients and as natural-based as possible? Head to the Wellbeing Sisters online shop!

Use code ‘BEATTITUDE15’ to get 15% off across the entire online shop (excluding sale items).

 

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