Surrounded by chemicals from face creams to detergents it still takes a trained eye to spot them. It took me a long time to finally get in the right frame of mind to check up on every household product that I had, and I remember the result being surprising with 95% containing harmful ingredients – and even worse products which I thought were natural and gentle on the skin. The list is long when it comes to toxic ingredients, and just because you buy a “green” type of product sadly doesn’t always mean that it’s chemical free. Here is a list of common toxic ingredients to watch out for when checking up on household cleaners, laundry detergents, shampoos and beauty products.
Harmful ingredients in Household cleaners & Laundry detergents:
- Glycol ethers: Used in a wide range of products from soaps, perfumes and cosmetics to paints and even foods. Cause nausea, fatigue, lethargy and possible liver and kidney damage.
- Phosphates: Commonly found in dishwasher detergents. Causes widespread environmental damage.
- Phthalates: Cause reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, cancer, organ damage.
- Perfume: Cause headaches, sinus problems, asthma, may cause intoxication and “addiction.”
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Commonly found in laundry detergent, shampoos and skincare products. Skin irritant, eye irritant, potential cancer causer.
- Ammonia: irritating to the skin, eyes and lungs.
- Chlorine: irritating to the skin, eyes and lungs.
- Ethanolamines: irritating to the skin, eyes and lungs.
- Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs): a common ingredient in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners (banned in Europe) and known to be a potent endocrine disrupter.
- Formaldehyde: found in spray and wick deodorizers, is a suspected carcinogen.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): including 1,4-dichlorobenzene – Cause nose and throat irritation, dizziness, asthma.
- Petroleum solvents in floor cleaners may damage mucous membranes.
Common toxic Ingredients in Shampoos:
When it comes to shampoos you have to look hard to find one that doesn’t contain several harmful ingredients even though they may be labelled as “organic”, “green” or “natural”. Here is some of the most common offenders:
- Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS/SLES): This ingredient is hard to get around as it is present in nearly all shampoos, toothpastes, soaps, detergents, treatments, make-up foundations, bath oils and detergents. Research studies have shown links to organ toxicity, irritation of the skin and eyes, organ/developmental/reproductive toxicity, Neurotoxicity, mutations and cancer.
- Parabens: are becoming increasingly controversial as researches have found traces of parabens in tissue samples from breast tumors. Not only have parabens been links to cancer but also to neurological and hormonal disorders. They are used as preservatives and may be listed on the label as ethyl paraben, propyl paraben,methyl paraben, butyl paraben, isobutyl paraben or E216.
- Dioxane: is another ingredient which has been described as being a cancer causing toxin which effects the brain and central nervous system, kidneys and liver.
- Diethanolamine or DEA: Commonly found in cosmetics and shampoos this ingredient reacts with nitrite preservatives and contaminants to create nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), a known and potent carcinogen.
- Propylene Glycol: Is a strong skin irritant with has been linked to liver and kidney damage. It’s commonly found in engine coolants, antifreeze, tire sealants and the like, and guess what? It is most probably in your shampoo too.
Common Toxic chemicals in Cosmetics & Oral care:
Now it maybe time to go through the bathroom cupboard! Some of the ingredients you will recognize from above. You may be surprised how many things you will have to replace to find a safer alternative.
- BHA & BHT: Commonly used as preservatives in make-up and moisturizers. May cause cancer and is harmful to wildlife.
- Coal tar dyes: Potential cancer causer. Possibly contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain. Watch out for p-phenylenediamine hair dyes and other products with listings such as “CI” followed by five digits.
- DEA/MEA/TEA: These ingredrients have been linked to cancer and are often found in creamy and foaming products such as moisturizers and shampoos.
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBT): May be present in some nail care products where it is used as a plasticizer. Reproductive toxicant.
- Formaldehyde: used in a wide range of cosmetics as a preservative. Slow release of small amounts of formaldehyde causes cancer. Formaldehyde releasing agents: methenamine , quarternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea.
- Parabens: Used as a preservative in a wide range of cosmetic products. Cancer causer and may effect male reproductive functions.
- Frangrance/Parfum: Can cause asthma and allergies and have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.
- PEG compounds: May be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane which has been linked to cancer. Also look for related chemicals with the letters “eth” such as polyethylene glycol.
- Petrolatum: Yet another cancer causer. Used in moisturizers, lip balms and hair products to create a shiny and balmy effect.
- Siloxanes: Used in cosmetics to soften and moisten. Known to disrupt the hormone system and reproductive organs. Watch out for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone”.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)/Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLES): Used in the majority of shampoo and foaming products. Cancerous.
- Triclosan: Commonly found in toothpastes, deodorants, cleansers and antibacterial cosmetics this harmful ingredient is known to disrupt the hormone system and cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.
Dr Mercola: Household cleaners | Shampoo
David Suzuki: Household cleaners | Cosmetics & Oral care
Healthy living hub enthusiasts are passionate about well-being and healthy lifestyles, and we aim to help people return to their best by motivating and promoting simple changes in lifestyle and food habits. We encourage the mind body connection and believe in an all-round approach to health and personal well-being.
Latest posts by Healthy Living Hub (see all)