5 Major Toxins to Avoid in Personal Care Products and How to Switch
Toxins are a hot topic in the world of wellness. It’s also one that can be scary and overwhelming. It seems everything you use is somehow toxic, and when you’re trying to conceive, it’s even more important to avoid these toxins.
There are a number of chemicals that directly affect the body’s endocrine system, creating negative effects on the reproductive process. These chemicals – or, toxins – are known as endocrine disruptors and they cause havoc on a woman’s fertility.
The Environmental Working Group has named 12 hormone-disrupting chemicals, dubbed the Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors.
Read This: Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors
Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors
- Fire retardants
- Perflourinated chemicals (PFCs)
- Organophosphate pesticides
- Glycol Ethers
When we began fertility treatments, I started looking at things I could change to make my lifestyle more natural, and less toxic. I won’t lie, I felt the same way you likely do; overwhelmed with all the potential toxins in my everyday life.
So, I stepped back and started with one thing at a time.
First, I tackled cosmetics and other personal care products. Skin is our biggest organ, and we put makeup and lotion on it everyday. In fact,
“In a..study by the Herb Research Foundation, it was revealed that the skin absorbs up to 60 percent of the chemicals in products that it comes into contact with directly into the bloodstream.”source
Personal care products are a toxin minefield, and a great place to start. This post covers endocrine disrupting ingredients to avoid in your personal care products, and non-toxic options.
Toxins to avoid
Parabens are used in cosmetics as a preservative to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. The most common types used in cosmetics are: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparabe (source).
Their chemical structure closely resembles that of estrogen, meaning they can mimic the same effect in the body. Parabens can – even in small amounts – encourage the growth of certain kinds of breast cancer cells.
Found in: Make-up, deoderants, moisturizers, shampoos, body and face washes.
The term “fragrance” was created to protect a company’s “secret formula” so they are not required to list the specific ingredients. Great, right? When you see fragrance listed, you have no idea how many dozens or even hundreds of chemicals make up the concoction you’re putting on your skin. Yikes! Unless the fragrance is natural – like those from essential oils – avoid it. They can cause allergic reactions and hormone disruptions.
Found in: Body washes, moisturizers, colognes and perfumes, shampoos and conditioners.
Read This: Fertility Diets: The Basics
This chemical is used as an antimicrobial property and is a known endocrine disruptor, especially effecting the thyroid and reproductive hormones.
Found in: Antibacterial soap, deodorant, and toothpaste.
Toluene is derived from coal tar sources and could be listed as: benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, and methylbenzene. It has been linked to immune system toxicity and is capable of causing cancer in humans, as well as effects on the reproductive system (source). It’s best to avoid in pregnancy as it may cause developmental issues in the fetus.
Found in: Nail polish, nail and hair color treatments.
This group of chemicals is used to increase the flexibility of plastics. While the effects are still being studied, “the National Toxicology Program concluded that high levels of one phthalate, di-n-butyl phthalate, may adversely affect human reproduction or development.” (source) Other studies have shown that certain phthalates can kickstart “death-inducing signals” to testicular cells, making them die early, directly affecting sperm count and mobility (source).
Found in: Nail polish, perfumes, lotions, and hairspray.
What to do now
These are scary facts! Personally, when I learned all of the ways I put toxins into my skin, I dwelled on possible damage I had done. Then, I focused on what I could do. When you know better, do better.
Thankfully, there are apps that can help. I discovered, and still use, Think Dirty. You simply scan, or enter the name of, any product (they have over 860 thousand products registered) and up pops a number 0-10. They are color coded, and 0 is the least toxic/most natural, 10 is the most.
Breaking it down, they recommend using products registering a 0-3, to be weary of products 4-7, and ditch anything 8+. Personally, I aim for <4, depending on how often I use said product.
Also, don’t miss the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database! Here, you can search thousands of products and see how the EWG rates them. For a list of recommended items jump over to their EWG Verified page and start shopping!
Another tip is not to freak out and overhaul your cabinets all at once.
How to go toxin-free with your personal care products
- Start with identifying your most used products, those items you use everyday.
- Check them against the two sources listed above or go through the ingredients yourself.
- Decide which you would like to continue using, and those you want to ditch.
- Next, either throw them out, or do like I did and take the more economical route by using the up and replacing them as they run out.
- Now, move on to lesser used items and go from there.
The great thing is, you don’t have to do this every time you shop. Once you identify a few brands or items you trust, you can buy them without a second thought.
There is a lot to consider before trying to start your family, and toxins is one of them. Working with a health coach – especially one who has made these changes – will help you determine the right changes for you, and how to go about them!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free Discovery Call and see if health coaching is a good fit for you.