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Cosmetic Products: Are They Safe?

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Many products we use daily can contribute to poor health.

Often, we do not question whether many of the products we use every day are safe or not, but in the interest of maintaining our health, it is something we should think about.

Since the end of World War II, there are numerous accounts of consumer products that have been discovered to have negative effects on our health. From food additives to building materials, and cosmetic products, we have discovered that many of these man-made objects can cause problems from endocrine disruption to cancer.

A few examples:

      • Sodium nitrite, a preservative used heavily in cured meats, was one of the first substances found to cause gastric cancers. Shockingly, its use is still prevalent today.
      • Asbestos, a commonly used flame retardant, was discovered years later to cause cancer.
      • Talc, a product used in baby powder, was linked recently to cancers like ovarian cancer.
      • Glyphosate, one of the most common pesticides used on crops, was recently put on the list of carcinogens by the IARC.

All of the products were once assumed to be safe and later found to cause profound harm to humans. Unfortunately, these are only a few examples of products that were later found to cause serious health problems.

Unfortunately, the industry is not usually on our side when it comes to disclosing the safety of their products. Most industries actively lobby against their products being labeled as dangerous.

For these reasons, paying attention to the ingredients in your cosmetics is an important habit to create.

Because of their regular use and their direct contact via our skin, cosmetics constitute a very profound way we can expose ourselves to dangerous ingredients. Often, we do not think about the volume of cosmetics we use, from the soap, shampoos, and lotions, to the toothpaste, deodorants, and styling products, and even the perfume or cologne we regularly wear. Unfortunately, in much the same way sodium nitrite is still used in meat products, many cosmetics contain ingredients that have been shown to cause harm.

While this list is not comprehensive, these are some ingredients commonly found in cosmetics that you should likely be avoiding:

Dibutyl phthalate
Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate
Petroleum distillates
Propylene glycol
Retinyl palmitate/retinyl acetate/retinoic acid/retinol

In addition, certain groups, like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) are excellent sources of information on substances found in consumer products that might be dangerous. Anything carrying their seal of approval has been been thoroughly tested for safety.

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