Exposure to chemicals from different sources in everyday life is widespread; one such source is the wide range of products listed under the title “cosmetics”, including the different types of popular and widely-advertised sunscreens. Women are encouraged through advertising to buy into the myth of everlasting youth, and one of the most alarming consequences is in utero exposure to chemicals.
The main route of exposure is the skin, but the main endpoint of exposure is endocrine disruption. This is due to many substances in cosmetics and sunscreens that have endocrine active properties that affect reproductive health but which also have other endpoints, such as cancer.
These substances are called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
How EDCs affect us
The endocrine system is a series of ductless glands that secrete hormones directly into the blood to regulate various body functions. The glands include:
gonads – produces sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone)
thyroid – produces thyroid hormone
adrenal – produce adrenaline
pancreas – produces insulin
pituitary – produces growth hormone
Body fat, muscle, heart, liver, intestines and kidneys have secondary endocrine functions and also produce hormones.
Many substances affect our endocrine systems. When ingested, absorbed or inhaled into the body, these substances interfere with the production, action and/or elimination of our naturally present hormones.
Which EDCs should we be worried about?
BPA may be one of the highest-profile endocrine disruptors, but we’re regularly exposed to plenty of others. Other known EDCs include:
Parabens are one of the most talked about endocrine disruptors commonly found in cosmetics. These are found in things like shampoos, conditioners, lotion, and even face cleaners. Since parabens are not water soluble they are able to penetrate the skin which is a major issue due to the dangers parabens have on the endocrine system. Parabens can cause endocrine disruption and even reproductive issues which is why many pregnant women are cautioned against using products with parabens in them.
Another issue with parabens is that they are found under many different names so it can be challenging to determine if a product contains parabens or not. Some of the common names to look out for include butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, and methylparaben. Just avoid anything that has a paraben at the end of it.
Phthalates are another commonly added toxin in modern day cosmetic products. These are chemical compounds that are added to things like plastic as well as cosmetics and even find their way into some food products. They can get into our food if we consume things like butter or milk from plastic containers that contain this harmful chemical.
A major problem with these toxins is that they can be absorbed in the body through both the air and the skin so cosmetic products are not the only things we have to worry about here. When talking about cosmetics, you will want to avoid things like perfumes, as well as moisturizers, eye shadows, nail polishes, shampoos, and conditioners that contain phthalates.
Phthalates are dangerous as they have been linked to reproductive disruption in both men and women. To steer clear of this chemical, avoid plastic containers and water bottles, and use as many homemade hair and skin care products as possible. I will be sharing some of my favorites so keep reading.
#3 Synthetic Colors
Believe it or not many synthetic colors are found in beauty products and they are added to make a product look more appealing. Think about things like hair dye, eye shadow, eye liner, and lipstick just to name a few. Many of these products contain harmful coloring that contain carcinogenic properties.
#4 Synthetic Fragrances
Fragrances are found in just about every cosmetic and beauty product you will find and they can cause some significant health issues. One of the many issues with synthetic fragrance is that they cause allergic responses to those that are sensitive. Not only that, but the chemicals that are used in synthetic fragrance are scary. It is estimated that approximately 95% of the chemicals used in these fragrances come from crude oil. They also include carcinogenic chemicals and chemicals that are linked to causing disruptions in many different body systems.
One of the tricky things about avoiding these synthetic fragrances is that they are often just labeled as “fragrance” on a product label. This doesn’t give you the whole story about how many of these added fragrances can cause endocrine disruption that could lead to hormonal imbalance and even lead to weight gain. The rule of thumb is to be very cautious with any product that says it contains “fragrance.” This could be the same name used for thousands of different chemical ingredients and you don’t even know which one is in the product that you are purchasing and using on your body. Keep in mind that when you purchase these products and use them on your body, the chemicals in the synthetic fragrances have the ability to get into your bloodstream and not only cause endocrine disruption but many of the chemicals are carcinogenic and can cause nervous system disorders.
So, how do you avoid these fragrances? For one, avoid anything that has a label containing the words “fragrance” or “parfum.” You will also want to avoid using any air fresheners including plug in air fresheners, dryer sheets, candles, and many cosmetic and self-care products like deodorant. Now, I know that is a long list of things to avoid but it doesn’t mean you can’t still safely wear makeup, or deodorant it just means that you need to be selective with the options that you choose. I will share some of my favorites with you so you can see just how easy it is to avoid these toxic chemicals.
#5 Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Commonly referred to as SLS, sodium lauryl sulfate is found in most shampoos, however, the scary thing is that is it also the same chemical found in many floor cleaners and even engine degreasers. It is crazy to think that an industrial product like SLS would be allowed to wind up in our bottle of shampoo or hand soap. SLS has been linked to endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and even cancer. The best way to avoid this chemical is to opt for shampoos, body washes, hand soaps, and toothpaste brands that are labeled as “SLS free.”
- synthetic chemicals used as industrial solvents/lubricants and their byproducts (polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), dioxins)
- pesticides (methoxychlor, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and tributyltin)
- fungicides (vinclozolin)
- pharmaceutical agents (diethylstilbestrol)
Another concern is that of an estimated 50,000 chemicals in use today, very few have been tested for endocrine effects. Even of the 800 or so chemicals suspected to be endocrine disruptors, only a small proportion of these have been tested.
More in-depth information on the Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors.
Endocrine disorders on the rise
Endocrine disorders are on the rise worldwide and include:
- low semen quality and fertility in young men
- genital malformations, such as non-descending testes (cryptorchidisms) and penile malformations (hypospadias) in baby boys
- premature birth and low birth weight
- neurobehavioural disorders associated with thyroid disruption in children (autism, attention deficit disorders and learning disabilities)
- endocrine-related cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid)
- earlier onset of breast development in young girls, which is a risk factor for breast cancer, obesity and type-2 diabetes.
Studies have confirmed EDCs as the cause of many, although not all, of these disorders – and in some cases can account for their increase. Endocrine disorders have also been observed in wild and domestic animals.
What to Use Instead
Now that you know what you need to be eliminating from your beauty routine and what chemicals to be on the lookout for when picking up products at the store, what can you use instead?
The great news is that there are some safe and natural alternatives that will work just as well as what you may be used to without the harmful effects endocrine disruptors have on the body. Let’s take a look at some of these options.
One of my favorite non-toxic options for beauty and self-care products is the use of essential oils. These oils are great alternatives to fragrance. I love to use Young Living Essential Oils and then mix a couple of drops of their Endoflex oil with coconut oil and use it as my moisturizer. I completely avoid any store-bought product this way and it smells so much better than anything that would come out of a synthetic lotion bottle!
I also love to diffuse essential oils which is a great option for anyone who enjoys lighting candles but wants to avoid the artificial fragrances. The trick with essential oils is to get high-grade pure oils. You won’t want to buy the ones you see at your local grocery store as these are not going to be pure grade. Like I said, my favorite options are the essential oils from Young Living.
Young Living Cleaning Products
Young Living has a great line of home cleaning products and laundry detergent that are scented with essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.
Homemade House Cleaning Products
If you are feeling adventurous and want to stay away from all store-bought options, you can always make your own house cleaning products and you can even make your own deodorant. A great way to make a homemade hand soap or all-purpose cleaning spray is to use some castile soap and a few drops of essential oil. You can also make your own homemade deodorant using coconut oil, baking soda, shea butter, and essential oil.
Make sure you grab a copy of my FREE guide 5 Steps To Increase Your Fertile Cervical Mucus & my FREE Self-Care Mini Course. You can access either one by clicking on the title. These are packed full of information that you can begin implementing today to put yourself one step closer to getting pregnant, naturally.
If you’re looking for a group of like-minded women with which to share your fertility wellness journey, be sure to check out my Whole Body Fertility & Wellness Facebook group today!
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