Knowing what ingredients are in the beauty and hygiene products that we’re rubbing into our skin is just as important as knowing the ingredients in our food. We know how much our body absorbs through our skin, so I want to talk about some important things we should be avoiding in our bathroom products. Endocrine disruptors are a large range of chemicals that are found in many different products that can mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones.
Endocrine disruptors are found almost everywhere from foods, the containers we put food and water in, sprays we inhale, and the products we put on our skin. The list of ingredients to avoid in products can be daunting, so it’s best to start small. This post should give you some great tools to understand what you’re putting on your body, and how to make sure you are making the best choices for you and your family.
What Are Endocrine Disruptors?
There are a few ways that endocrine disruptors can work: they can decrease or increase hormones in the body, they can mimic the natural hormones, and they can alter or halt the production of hormones in the body. This can contribute to depression, anxiety, PMS, mood swings, heavy bleeding, infertility, migraines, chronic fatigue, and more.
“The brain is highly vulnerable to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can cause widespread disruption of hormone receptors, enzymes, and nerve signals. The renewal, maintenance, and death of neurons are also highly hormone-sensitive. The World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the US National Toxicology Program are just a few of the leading agencies concluding that EDCs may cause a variety of neuroendocrine dysfunction that negatively effects the brain and behavior. EDC exposures have been linked to decreased IQ, increased neurodevelopmental problems, and other neurocognitive conditions.” There are many different common endocrine disruptors, but today we’re going to focus on those commonly found in bathroom products, including cosmetics and personal care items.
Parabens are used in beauty products as a preservative. They’re found on the label in words that end in -paraben. For example, ethylparaben, butylparaben, etc. Parabens are possible endocrine disruptors due to their ability to mimic estrogen. The CSC cites a 2004 British study that detected traces of 5 parabens in breast tumors of 19 out of 20 women studied. “This small study does not prove a causal relationship between parabens and breast cancer, but it is important because it detected the presence of intact parabens-unaltered by the bodies metabolism—which is an indication of the chemicals ability to penetrate skin and remain in breast tissue.”
Phthalates are also a known endocrine disruptor. Coined the “everywhere chemical,” phthalates are human-made chemicals, hidden under terms like “fragrances” and “parfum” and are found in everything from plastics to personal and cleaning products to home goods. Phthalates have been linked to early puberty and early puberty has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in women. One type of phthalate, DEHP, was shown to have a “significantly positive association” for breast cancer risk.
Ready to ditch products that contain these bothersome and harmful ingredients?
What to Look For
The good news is that these chemicals are typically labeled in the ingredients on the products that we purchase. Here is a good list of ingredients to look for and avoid:
- Artificial dyes
- Phthalates (found in fragrance)
- UV filters (use only mineral sunscreen)
Women’s Bathroom Product Swaps
Endocrine disruptors are commonly found in things like body washes, face washes, shaving creams, makeup, and toothpaste. These products are things we use every day. One of the big problems with endocrine disruptors is the amount that we are being exposed to almost constantly. If every single product we put into or onto our body contains these ingredients, it can be impossible to figure out where our problems are coming from. It’s okay to start small—choose something that you use the most each day and swap that out first. There are many affordable options out there, so budget shouldn’t be a big hinderance to you avoiding these chemicals.
- Swap your shampoo and conditioner for Viori
- Swap your body wash for Aleavia
- Swap your body lotion for Everyone
- Swap your shave cream for Billie
- Swap perfume for Dime
- Swap your toothpaste/floss for Risewell
Men’s Bathroom Product Swaps
When switching out products, especially personal care items, it can be easy to forget about the men in our lives. We purchase only the best, most nourishing body washes and creams, and keep giving them the cheapest we can find. However, endocrine disrupters affect men as well. The general exposure to endocrine disruptors, including phthalates, is considered as one of the reasons for diminished sperm count and deteriorated sperm quality, which may lead to infertility. Studies and recent research have linked phthalate exposure to blood levels of low testosterone in almost 15,000 men nationwide. The men who were 40 years and younger were exposed via personal care products. A separate Harvard study showed that a single use of cologne can significantly increase the DEP and phthalates in his body! To avoid this exposure, reach for these brands instead:
- Swap his deodorant for Just Ingredients
- Swap his shampoo for Dr. Squatch
- Swap his shave cream for Badger
- Swap his after shave for Just Ingredients
- Swap his hair gel for John Masters
- Swap his cologne for Dr. Squatch
- Swap his body wash for Attitude
These swaps are just a few of my favorites. There are many other options out there. The best part about consumers realizing that these harsh chemicals are causing problems is that companies are starting to listen. By choosing products that only contain nourishing ingredients, we are influencing the market to include more products that are better for us and for our families. Have you tried any of these swaps? Let me know in the comment section below!