Did you know that the average woman applies over 500 chemicals to her body every single day? I certainly didn’t and when I heard this information during a television news broadcast this past week, I thought the reporter must have made a mistake. There is absolutely no way that I am in some way applying 500 separate chemicals onto my body? Or, am I? And, by the way—most of these chemicals are not considered to be natural.
Turns out, I probably am. And, this is not new information. Back in 2010, a study in the UK came to this conclusion and the news keeps circling back around year after year because…well, it’s just so unbelievable. Similar to the UK women studied, American women douse themselves with perfumes (me), lotions (me), cosmetics (me), skincare regimens (me), shampoos and conditioners (me), deodorants (me) and the list goes on. And, because most of these products contain many, many ingredients—they add up. To over 500! Why are we adding them up? Because we know that unnatural chemicals can affect our hormones and used at certain levels over time are linked to disease.
Actually, I have recently been working hard to eliminate non-organic certified products (per her doctor) from my daughter’s daily hygiene regimen because she seems to be allergic to everything—especially fragrance. And, it has been helpful to her overall health. I just didn’t think about myself and the long-term affects so many chemicals could have on both my daughter and my own hormone health. For more on the reason why read Heidi’s post on how Toxins Make Us Fat.
Do you know how many you wear? Take a moment to figure it out. Look at the labels of all of the products you use and count how many ingredients are listed. Then, add them all together.
Shampoo and conditioner = _______
Lotions and moisturizers = _______
Perfume or cologne = _______
Cosmetics = _______
Hair styling products = _______
Deodorant = _________
Other = ________
TOTAL = _______
Surprised? Most people are. But, don’t take this number at face value. Here are some important points to consider:
- Some of the ingredients may be present in several of your products, so your total number may not reflect the actual number of different chemicals you’re exposed to.
- “Fragrance” is considered a trade secret. So, manufacturers can use a wide variety of chemicals (sometimes over one hundred) to make up their signature scent, but they don’t have to list them in the ingredients. Given this fact, the total number of chemicals you’re wearing may be much larger than what you think it is.
- All of the chemicals in personal care products are not bad, but there are a significant amount of commonly used ingredients that are especially risky to your health. Avoid products that contain: “parabens” (Methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- and butyl-parabens), coal tar colors (FD&C; Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6; D&C; Red 33), Diethanolamine (cocamide DEA, TEA and MEA are related ingredients that can be contaminated with DEA), Nonoxynol or nonylphenol ethoxylate, phthalates (can be listed as DEHP, DHP, or DBP5 or hidden in “fragrance”), DMDM hydantoin, triclosan, sodum lauryl and laureth sulfates, toluene, formaldehyde, PEGs, and anything with “glycol” or “methyl.” Learn more about these chemicals and find safer products in the Environmental Working Group’s Buying Guide and print a Healthy Shopping Guide, so you always have the information on hand.
It’s hard to eliminate everything on this list, especially if you can’t afford all the certified organic products. I’ve pledge to try and cut back and substitute simpler, safer products. And, I think it might easy to just eliminate some of the things I’m putting on my body each day. It would also save a few bucks!