With rapidly increasing rates of cancer, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune disease, type 2 diabetes and other endocrine related illnesses, people are especially interested in educating themselves on these problems and their possible solutions. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and adversely affect development, reproduction and neurological/ immune function in both humans and wildlife. As a beauty enthusiast with dreams for a healthier future for everyone, I’m committed to helping people reverse the damage done to our bodies, unbeknownst to most. We need to work together and reduce the demand for the personal care products containing the very chemicals making us sick.
Currently, more than 800 synthetic chemicals are known or suspected to be endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disrupting chemicals act in two distinct ways, only the later of which is reversible: By affecting fetal and childhood development or by disrupting the metabolism of children and adults. Developmental disruption is irreversible and may result in immediate effects or disease later in life.
Exposure to endocrine disruptors has been proven by several studies to heighten chances of suffering from conditions such as infertility through endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome and uterine fibroid. It can also result in early puberty in females, recurring miscarriages, chromosomal abnormalities, acne and neurological effects in both adults and children. Exposure to endocrine disruptors also makes people more susceptible to altered immune function, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
While the European Union has banned the use of endocrine disrupting ingredients in personal health care products, many of these toxic chemicals continue to be labelled as safe by organizations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada. This allows for North American companies to continue manufacturing products containing them. Not only do these chemicals directly affect us and our children (if we have them), they also end up in our wastewater, contaminating the environment and our drinking water supplies. In the end, it’s up to us as individuals to change this. The first step to doing so is to pay attention to the ingredients in the products that we buy.
In the majority of personal care products, you will notice one or more of the following chemicals listed under ingredients: Triclosan, an antibacterial preservative; fragrance (parfum), an unregulated cocktail of ingredients that are not required to be listed; dibutyl phthalate, a plasticizer used in nail polish; methyl/propyl/butyl paraben, a group of broad spectrum preservatives used in nearly every product imaginable; and silicones and siloxanes, often used in moisturizer, foundation, lipstick and makeup primer to provide a smoothing effect.
Some other chemicals of concern include petroleum products such as mineral oil, paraffin wax, petroleum jelly (polyethylene/propylene glycol) and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate. Not only are these ingredients worrisome due to suspected endocrine disruption but also because of contamination with dioxanes and ethylene oxide. While there are safe products to be found amongst those labeled ‘natural’ or ‘organic,’ I frequently find silicones, petrolatum and fragrance in products labelled in this way.
Generally speaking, the longer you are in contact with any substance, the more of it you will absorb. For example, cleansers of all types are designed to be rinsed off so they don’t stay on your body for long. Moisturizers, however, are meant to be left on the skin for long periods of time and cover a considerable surface area. Foundation is typically worn for much less time than moisturizer as 75% of women do not sleep in makeup. While eye makeup covers limited surface area, eyes are mucous membranes that irritate easily and are very effective at absorbing chemicals. Lipstick is easy to ingest in increments and is absorbed directly through the skin. When ingested, a certain amount of these chemicals are processed by the liver and then excreted through bodily wastes, however, studies have shown that when applied to skin they bypass the liver and enter the bloodstream directly. That being said, for personal protection I would suggest replacing products containing endocrine disrupting ingredients in the following order:
I recognize it may seem like an overwhelming and expensive change to make, but there are budget friendly options available. Replace products as needed and look for discount codes. Another option is to avoid cosmetics entirely or make your own, but I understand that not everyone has the time, money or desire to do this. In the end, if there are a few products you can’t do without and are unable to find replacements for, don’t be discouraged. The most important thing is to reduce exposure. By replacing most products with safer alternatives you have already made a difference to your health and that of future generations!