Defense!

The market does a really good job of luring the customer to its product. It really REALLY hurts (emotionally lol) to know that some of these “essential” products contain harmful chemicals. In effort to make healthier/safer purchases, use informative tools, avoid the product, or find other alternatives (e.g. DIY product) for the skin.

Immunology must have been one of the toughest and coolest courses I took in college, but here, let’s breeze through the body’s first line of defense: the skin. It is an active immune organ equipped with competent cells from innate and adaptive responses that work in concert to protect us from pathogens and toxins. Personal care products containing toxic chemicals are often applied directly on the skin, where it’s quickly absorbed. The body learns to fight such chemicals with exposure; however, long-term exposure may lead to health problems.

These chemicals may be carcinogens, allergens, mutagens, and/ or endocrine disruptors. For example, infamous parabens (used as a preservative) and Aluminum-based products (found in deodorants) are linked to cancer. Another major hazardous chemical that can be easily avoided without sacrificing your personal care products is Triclosan. It is found in antibacterial products, which is known to impair thyroid function and create microbial resistance.

Click here to see a more complete list of chemicals and ingredients to avoid.

If you did not research the product before shopping, no worries! Use this amazing cellphone app by Environmental Working Group (EWG) to see the hazardous level of a particular product, just a scan away:

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By minimizing the exposure of bad environmental agents, we can avoid compromising one’s health. Unfortunately, that exposure is almost inevitable. Often times that product may have great reviews and marketing techniques while containing harmful chemicals. To make matters worse, the government does not prohibit the use of some dangerous chemicals in personal care products (but let’s not discuss politics). Read these tips for safer alternatives.

For further reading I recommend:

Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power by Mark Schapiro

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I hope you found this as a helpful tool for guidance to safer products. I am still in the process of perfecting this habit and incorporating into a healthy lifestyle for my family and me.

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