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6 Conventional Beauty Products You Need To Toss ASAP

Jennifer Freitas
Written by Jennifer Freitas

Everyday personal care products contain thousands of chemicals that affect hormones and may be linked to various illnesses. Cosmetic manufacturers aren’t regulated, and terms like “organic” and “natural” aren't enforced. Needless to say, it can be incredibly hard to tell what’s in the bottles and if a product is safe.

To give you an example of what I mean, an ingredient like petroleum is derived from natural sources, yet it's a "beauty bad guy." It’s harvested from the same crude oil source as the stuff that goes into your car! Petroleum is a foreign substance which is non-digestable by the human body, so our body naturally rejects it. It's also linked to contact dermatitis (inflammation) which can in turn cause cellular damage, stress and even result in premature aging. Do I have your full attention now?

Here are some of the most common products found in bathroom vanities. Is it time to swap out your favorite brand for a cleaner alternative?

1. Deodorant

Want to know how that deodorant stick keeps itself from drying out? It’s called propylene glycol and it's been associated with dermatitis, eye irritations and organ system toxicity. It's also a component of antifreeze. I don’t’ know about you, but what I put in the engine of my car doesn’t really have a place in my beauty care regime. (Not sure where to start? Try these.)

2. Sunscreen

If it contains avobenzone, PABA, oxybenzone, ethoxycinnamate, chuck it in the trash. These ingredients have been linked to skin irritations, allergies and endocrine disruption. You're way better off using a sunscreen that uses a mineral block, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Here's a quick guide that details what you should (and shouldn't) look for when it comes to sunscreen.

3. Nail polish

Many formulations contain toluene, a petrochemical solvent that’s also used in paint thinners. It's a known irritant that causes breathing problems, nausea, organ system toxicity and is most likely a carcinogen. What to do for some color on your digits? Look for polishes that are "5-free."

This designation means the polish is completely free of five known toxic ingredients: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde resin and camphor.

4. Antibacterial hand soaps

The ingredient companies add to a soap formula to make the "anti-bacterial" claim is called triclosan. This chemical is a known endocrine disrupter and has been associated with skin, eye and lung irritation. It's also bioaccumulative, meaning when it washes down the drain into the water supply and bodies of water, it's found at much high concentrations than that at which it occurs in the surrounding environment. Your love for the planet should give you a bonus reason to ditch this stuff.

Curious what other "clean" home products might be hiding toxins? Check this out.

5. Body lotion

Many conventional lotions contain parabens (also listed as methylparaben or propylparaben) which are added to keep a product from going bad too quickly. Despite the prolonged shelf life, this ingredient can wreak havoc on your body: parabens have been shown to irritate skin, eyes and lungs, and since they mimic estrogen in the human body, they've been linked to breast cancer tissue growth.

For a natural, clean alternative, why not try coconut oil?

6. Shampoo

Want clean hair? Ditch the sodium laureth sulfate-heavy shampoos. Sure, SLS is an inexpensive and effective foaming agent, but it doesn't actually do much to get your hair "clean." Rather, it's a known skin irritant and strips the natural oils from your hair and skin. But in reality, all those bubbles aren't actually doing anything for your hair and scalp. Toss it.

Ready to take the natural shampoo plunge? This DIY baking soda version is a hair-saver.

Too much work to remember the names of these beauty bad guys? Here are some super-simple tips to keep that bathroom (and your body) clean.

  • Choose fewer products.
  • Look for plant-based ingredients.
  • Look up DIY recipes that use food grade-ingredients found in your kitchen.
  • Avoid fragrance.
  • Avoid antimicrobials.
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