What's In Your Products?
Diethanolamine (DEA) is easily absorbed through the skin, and combines with the nitrate preservatives commonly added to soaps to create nitrosodiethanolamine (or NDEA). NDEA is a potent carcinogenic, and it is most strongly linked to the development of kidney and liver cancers. Pregnant women should be especially cautious of DEA, as it interferes with the body’s ability to absorb choline, which unborn children need for proper brain development. This also applies to triethanolamine (or TEA), which is a derivative of DEA. If you are pregnant or nursing you should definitely avoid this and all other toxic soap ingredients on this list.
Triclosan is a pesticide and antibacterial agent that is commonly added to hand soaps and shower gels, but it’s been implicated as one of the main contributors to the growing issue of antibiotic resistance. Triclosan is also capable of changing the levels of the female sex hormone estrogen, and this is a risk factor for the development of breast cancer in women.
Formaldehyde is often found in shampoos, shower gels and soaps (as are chemicals that release formaldehyde, such as diazolidinyl urea). Exposure can cause respiratory disorders like asthma, promote chronic fatigue, lead to an irregular heartbeat or frequent headaches, result in sleep problems like insomnia and negatively impacting your immune system.
Dioxane is sometimes thought as harmless because it is a synthetic derivative of coconut, but describing it in this apparently benign way is misleading. It is thought to cause cancer and it’s also toxic to the nervous system, liver, kidneys and brain.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate (or SLS) is an emulsifier and a detergent, and it is one of the most common dangerous ingredients added to cosmetics and other personal care products. It is also found in industrial cleaners and engine degreasers. When SLS combines with other common ingredients in personal hygiene products, it becomes something called a nitrosamine, which has carcinogenic properties.
Parabens (propylparaben, methylparaben) are extremely common preservatives in hand soaps and shower gels, but a range of scientific studies have shown that there is a link between paraben exposure and breast cancer, because parabens are capable of mimicking the female sex hormone estrogen. They are also connected with neurological disorders due to nervous system toxicity, and can cause severe skin irritation (including painful rashes and local swelling).
‘Fragrance’ on product labels is misleading due to the fact that it is acceptable to print this one word no matter how many chemicals are actually added to create the distinctive smell of a product. Some fragrance ingredients cause irritating but relatively minor problems such as skin rashes, but others are linked to mood disorders, migraines, and severe dizziness.
Propylene Glycol (PEG)
Propylene glycol is found in shower gels, but it is also an ingredient in antifreeze, adhesives, paints, and rubber cleaners. While the FDA still considers it to be a safe addition to personal care products, recent scientific studies have shown a link between propylene glycol and dermatitis, widespread skin irritation, and liver or kidney abnormalities.