Spring Clean your Cabinets

It’s time to shed the values placed on you by mass marketing, and redefine your own. Have you ever noticed how the “clean” products sold often aren’t really clean? I mean… they’re cleaner. But they still contain a lot of harsh chemicals and fillers. Instead of taking these marketed terms (clean, organic, healthy, and natural) at face-value, we need to look beyond merchandising and examine the label. The majority of skincare products sold contain industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. Imagine what that does to your skin, and to the environment... They also contain surfactants, which are commonly used to reduce the surface tension in water in paint and inks, plasticizers which are used to keep concrete soft, and degreasers which are most often used to clean heavy grease off of auto parts. Repulsed yet? We’ve left a list of common ingredients to avoid, to help you analyze what’s in your cabinet. We know this isn’t an easy transition, and it’s a lot to take in. That’s why we’re here for you- email us back with any questions you may have!


BHA and BHT- These are synthetic antioxidants that are often used as preservatives in both skincare and food. Evidence suggests these cause allergic reactions, and interfere with hormone function. They have also been identified as human carcinogens with substantial toxicity to aquatic organisms, and they have the ability to bioaccumulate.


Coal tar dyes- P-phenylenediamine (and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number) are added to manipulate product color. Coal tar is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum, and recognized as a human carcinogen.


DEA-related ingredients- These make products creamy or sudsy, and have been known to cause mild to moderate skin and eye irritation.


Dibutyl phthalate- Phthalates are used as fragrance ingredients in many cosmetics, but consumers won’t find these listed on the label. Fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets. Dibutyl phthalate is also commonly used in polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) to make it flexible.


Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives- These agents are used as preservatives in a wide range of cosmetics. Other industrial applications of formaldehyde include the making of vinyl flooring and toilet bowl cleaners. These ingredients are a concern because they slowly and continuously release small amounts of formaldehyde, which is a known human carcinogen.


Parabens- Parabens easily penetrate the skin. They can mimic estrogen, and have been detected in human breast cancer tissues.


Parfum/Fragrance- The term “fragrance” or “parfum” on an ingredients list usually represents a complex mixture of chemicals. 3,000 plus chemicals are used as fragrances, and even products marketed as “fragrance-free” or “unscented” may contain fragrance along with a masking agent. This prevents the brain from perceiving odor. These irritants can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms.


PEG compounds- PEGs are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, and softeners. They are carcinogenic, and show some evidence of genotoxicity.


Petrolatum- Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly. It is used as a barrier to lock in moisture. Petrolatum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Studies suggest that exposure to PAHs, including skin contact over extended periods of time, is associated with cancer.


And that’s just scratching the surface of the many harmful fillers and additives found in common products we use on a daily basis. It’s not just skincare- these compounds are also found in things such as toothpaste and deodorant. It’s time to extend the season of spring cleaning into our vanities, and analyze what we’ve been using all these years.


“We surveyed Canadians to see how many of the “Dirty Dozen” ingredients appeared in their cosmetics, and our findings show that 80 percent of entered products contained at least one of these toxic chemicals.” / David Suzuki Foundation

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