When I was pregnant with my baby boy, I was very conscious about what I used on my skin. I rarely wore makeup and avoided many products that contained ingredients that are questionable for human safety. Our skin is our largest organ and it takes mere seconds for what we apply to the surface to be absorbed into our bodies.
Unfortunately, the beauty industry is largely unregulated. Many ingredients don’t have to be disclosed and hidden toxins may be found under labels such as fragrance. The EU has banned 1,400 concerning ingredients, Canada has banned 600 and the U.S. has banned 30 to date. Clearly there is a discrepancy in what is considered safe or concerning for human health.
It can be hard though. Cost, time, stress and convenience is all a factor in what we decide to purchase. So, what are we to do? I think the first step is to educate ourselves on what we can do to make the switch. Use glass instead of plastics, switch out or eliminate a few of our personal care items with questionable ingredients, or even eat organic once in a while. Simple changes can help to reduce the amount of toxins we are exposed to as mothers.
Some ingredients to watch out for:
- Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, proply- and others): a class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Specially, parabens mimic estrogen; they can lock onto our cell’s own estrogen receptors and mess with important natural signals. They may play a role in triggering breast cancer. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, and foundation.
- Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others): a class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray.
- BHA and BHT: synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors, and may cause liver damage. Found in: lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other cosmetics.
- Formaldehyde - used as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
A PR professional and expert on health-conscious beauty products, Shannon Galley has background in journalism and is passionate about wholesome and holistic living. When she isn’t chasing her very busy toddler, Shannon can be found drinking coffee, blogging about her “wholistic” lifestyle, and educating others on effecting change in the beauty industry. Follow her blog Thoughts In a Moment, and find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.