Each and every day millions of Americans are unknowingly exposing themselves to dangerous, toxic chemicals. Some of these chemicals are absolutely, without a doubt known to be cancer causing. While other chemicals are not linked to cancer, they have been shown to contribute to hormonal disruptions, headaches, allergies, depression, chronic fatigue, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, and irritability. You are very likely a victim of this dilemma and have been so since childhood.

Believe it or not, the very products that you have been taught to be beneficial for you are the very products that contain ingredients that may be posing a serious threat to your health. Products like soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, and make-up usually contain cheap, synthetic ingredients that are suspiciously harmful. There are in fact more than 125 ingredients used on the skin suspected of causing cancer, 20 cause adverse nervous system reactions, and 25 are connected to birth defects. What you put on your skin penetrates and can enter your body. Transdermal patches (like Nicotine patches) prove this.

Numerous articles have been written on the hazards of chemicals in personal care products. Senator Edward Kennedy has written several letters to Congress regarding the health risks associated with using cosmetics that contain cancer-causing ingredients.

Have you ever read the ingredient listing on a personal care product and wondered what all those big, complicated words really mean? This article will provide you with the information you need to make educated decisions about the products that you put on your skin. We will consider just 8 of the most common ingredients used in skin and hair care products and explain why they are so hazardous.

This information may sound unbelievable, but bear one thing in mind. In 1938 the FDA granted the personal care industry the power to regulate itself. Therefore, products can be marketed without government approval of ingredients, regardless of what tests show. Pre-market safety tests are not required and with the exception of a small amount of banned chemicals, manufacturers can add almost any ingredient to a personal care product.

Here is a small sampling of ingredients commonly used in skin, hair, and oral care products. Here's what the labels don't tell you.

1) Fragrances. Don't be fooled. Just because it smells good, doesn't mean it is. Often one of the first things a consumer does when trying a personal care product is to smell it. If the product smells good the consumer is much more likely to want the product. Often the label on the product will give the illusion that the scent is natural. A picture of a flower or fruit leads the consumer to think that the jasmine scent must be from real jasmine. More often than not, this is simply not the case. Most fragrances are of synthetic origin. Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic (causing or contributing to cancer). Manufacturers are not required to disclose the individual ingredients as they are considered "trade secrets."

Symptoms reported to the FDA include headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and skin irritation. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes. Halifax, Nova Scotia has declared many scented products to be hazardous to public health and has therefore banned the wearing of all cosmetic fragrances in most indoor public places.

2) FD&C Color Pigments. Again, don't be fooled. Just because it looks pretty doesn't mean it is. The only purpose color pigments serve is to make the product look attractive. It serves absolutely no beneficial purpose for your skin. These color pigments are actually synthetic colors made from coal tar, containing heavy metal salts that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic. These are often labeled on a product with a number following, such as FD&C Blue No. 1.

3) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). You will find these ingredients in almost all cleansers that foam. These chemicals are even used in car washes, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. Research indicates that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate causes inflammation of the skin and can weaken the immune system. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS because proteins are dissolved. Be especially alert for these ingredients in Baby Shampoo.

4) DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), & TEA (triethanolamine). These ingredients are again found in most products that foam. These hormone-disrupting chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. On February 23, 1998 the CBS talk show "This Morning" reported on a Federal government study that revealed DEA and DEA-based detergents to greatly increase the risk of cancer, especially liver and kidney cancer.

5) Triclosan. The EPA registers Triclosan as a pesticide and is classified as a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Triclosan is so toxic it is measured in parts per trillion. To illustrate-one drop of Triclosan in 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools can cause hormonal disruption! This chemical is a synthetic "antibacterial" ingredient and is therefore found in most antibacterial soaps, lotions, and toothpaste.

6) Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol. These are petroleum plastics that easily penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. PG is a solvent so powerful it dissolves through a stainless steel tank in 48 hours so it has to be stored in plastic drums. The EPA considers PG so toxic that it requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles. However, Propylene Glycol is used in some products in concentrations of up to 20%. It is also the main ingredient in certain types of Antifreeze. How's that for good skin care?

7) Mineral Oil. A petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. It interferes with the skin's ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. It slows down skin function and cell development. Note: Baby Oil is 100% Mineral Oil!

8) DMDM Hydantoin. Just one of the many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep.

Does this information surprise you? Remember the primary reason a cosmetic company is in business is for profit. These synthetic ingredients are plentiful and inexpensive therefore allowing more room for profit. Even products claiming to be natural often bury the few natural ingredients in a long list of synthetic chemicals. There is no legal definition for the word natural, so don't be fooled. Read the labels carefully and verify for yourself.

The argument often heard when questioning the use of these and other harmful ingredients is that they are only used in small amounts. Even if this is so, think of the long-term harm of repeatedly exposing your skin to these ingredients, day after day, year after year. Some products like moisturizers and make-up remain on the skin for hours. And what happens when you combine in a product SEVERAL ingredients that are supposedly used in small amounts? Many products list a synthetic chemical as the first ingredient on the label, meaning it is the single most prevalent ingredient. As previously mentioned, Propylene Glycol is often used in concentrations of up to 20%. Certain ingredients only require a tiny amount to do any damage. Remember, the toxicity of Triclosan is measured in parts per trillion-think back to those 300 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Some claim that Americans have been using products containing these ingredients for years and their health is fine. But is it really? Just to review, symptoms associated with exposure to the chemicals discussed in this article include headaches, depression, hyperactivity, hormonal disruption, acne, joint pain, allergies, chronic fatigue, and cancer. Do you know anyone who suffers from any of these problems? Have you checked the cancer statistics lately? Are Americans really doing just fine? You be the judge.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to create personal care products without the use of any harmful ingredients. This includes preservatives. The answers and solutions can be found in nature. All it takes is study, research and a sincere desire to meet the health needs of consumers equally with profit needs.

Consider very carefully the health risks associated with needlessly exposing yourself to harmful chemicals and make it your resolve to no longer buy questionable products from companies that have little regard for your health. While change on a large scale is not likely to happen soon, you can individually make changes and use this information to protect the health of you and those you love. To learn more about how you can do this, visit http://www.skinabuse.com

Author's Bio: 

Marcus Maldonado resides in Los Angeles, California with his
beautiful wife Amara. He invites you to learn more about dangerous, toxic chemicals in personal care products and what you can do to protect yourself. His web site can be found at http://www.skinabuse.com. To send an email, mailto:marcus@skinabuse.com.