Chemicals in cosmetics/ shampoos/soaps/deodorants etc. and their effects on our bodies in general

There are multiple chemicals in the cosmetic industry that should be avoided for general health.

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are antioxidant preservatives added to beauty products, as well as foods. BHA is considered a likely carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the U.S. National Toxicology Program and is added to cosmetic products that contain fats and oils, especially lipstick and eyeshadow. In studies, animals exposed to BHA developed stomach and liver damage and complications with their thyroid and reproductive organs. BHT — a similar compound — was not found to cause cancer, but did cause liver and kidney damage, as well as other toxic effects. Some companies are proactively removing BHA and BHT from their products.

Borates are boron-containing chemical compounds, the most common include sodium borate (borax), boric acid, sodium perborate and perboric acid. Sodium borate, also called sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate, is a naturally occurring mineral, and it is used as a preservative and emulsifying agent which stabilizes the combination of ingredients in creams, lotions, shampoos, and bath products. Borates are sometimes used in teeth whitening toothpaste.

A major concern with sodium borate and its chemical cousin, boric acid, is that, in several laboratory animal species, exposure to either of these two compounds led to shrunken testes (testicular atrophy) and reduced sperm count in males and birth defects in females. Exposure to sodium perborate caused chromosomal rearrangements and mutations in hamster cells. Borates have been banned in the European Union, and the Canadian government advises individuals against using borax.

Coal tar is made from burning bituminous coal and contains hundreds of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). It's used in anti-dandruff shampoos, as well as in creams treating skin conditions like psoriasis. Studies found coal tar led to skin, lung and liver cancers as well as DNA mutations. Coal tar is comedogenic, which means it blocks the skin pores and increases the skin's sensitivity to light.

Many colors used in cosmetics were once made from coal tar; although today they are made from petroleum, the name coal tar dye remains. Many hair dyes contain coal tar dyes.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Formaldehyde and its cousin formalin are found in nail polish, nail polish remover, eyelash glue, hair gel, soap and other products. You can be exposed to inhalation of formaldehyde during Brazilian blowout hair smoothing treatments, even if they claim to be formaldehyde-free. There are also many formaldehyde-releasing preservatives — including DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quatemium-15, and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate — in products, including baby shampoos. Most studies have studied the effects of inhalation of formaldehyde versus skin application, but the clear link to cancer from inhaled formaldehyde is enough to avoid products that contain these compounds altogether.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is used in cosmetics to create a cream base, and are used to thicken, soften or moisturize. PEG compounds are petroleum-based and include propylene glycol, polyethylene glycols, and polyoxyethylene. There's some evidence that PEG compounds are harmful to DNA. Depending on the manufacturing process, PEG compounds may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a chemical the FDA warns may cause cancer, or ethylene oxide, a developmental toxicant, a compound that interferes with fetal development.

Sunscreens contain oxybenzone to absorb UV light. While the American Academy of Dermatology says oxybenzone is safe, the Environmental Working Group, an environmental nonprofit that publishes the Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database warns of moderate to high concern due to its endocrine-disrupting properties. One study found oxybenzone caused the excess creation of reactive oxygen species, which can cause DNA mutations, cell death, and lead to cardiovascular problems. Synonyms for oxybenzone include benzophenone and phenyl-methanone.

Fragrances are added to lotion, body wash, soap, and many beauty products. However, cosmetic

companies don't have to legally disclose which chemicals are in their fragrance because they are considered trade secrets. Fragrances and perfumes emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancer. Products that are labeled as unscented products may contain fragrances with masking agents. Masking agents are often phthalates which are known endocrine disruptors. Choose fragrance-free options. Some fragrances are linked to allergic reactions, asthma, and migraine headaches.

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