You probably wouldn’t slather harmful chemicals all over your body (unless you’re into that kind of thing), but many of us are unknowingly doing just that several times a day. Personal care products are full of substances that cause cancer and myriad other health-related problems. That is why it’s important to know which ingredients are harmful, and to check the labels of all products, especially those that you use most often, or that are used by children. To be safest, use as few products as possible.
Harmful chemicals are often lumped together as “fragrance” and “flavor,” so look out for companies that list those as ingredients to mask what is really in their products. Here are some other common chemicals to look out for, listed by the products in which they appear most often.
- Many different products: parabens, phthalates, diethanolamine (DEA), methylisothiazolinone (MIT),
- formaldehyde, petroleum derivatives
- Baby bath products: coal tar, FD&C or D&C colors
- Hair dye and bleaches: Phenylenediamines (such as PPD), lead acetate
- Mascara: mercury
- Nail treatments: toluene
- Sunscreen: benzophenone, homosalate, octyl-methoxycinnamate