Stop & Check the Roses: What Toxins Could be Hiding in Your Favorite Products

May 09, 2019 at 03:37 pm by PaigeAtwell


By Julie Jorgensen

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas, grandmamas and aunties out there! This month, we’re getting serious about ingredients lurking about in the products we put on ourselves and our babies regularly, and the potentially-sketchy effects they can have on our respective health. None of this is meant to scare y’all— the hope is that maybe we shed some light on how to make mindful choices and maybe pause before dousing ourselves in that bottle of perfume we got for Mother’s Day.

Let’s start with the basics and do a quick rundown on fragrance. The very word, when included in personal care products, covers a litany of chemicals, many of which have a questionable-to-potentially-nasty impact on women’s health. Given that the cosmetic industry in the United States is wildly unregulated, companies can hide scary ingredients like phthalates under the generic term “fragrance” without disclosing any additional information to the consumer. Phthalates, widely used in plastic products, are often added to personal-care products like nail polish, hairspray, and— you guessed it— perfume. If y’all have been paying attention to previous discussions about this sort of thing, you may remember that anything we put onto our skin can be detected in our bloodstream in a matter of seconds. Phthalates, sneaky little things that they are, mimic or disrupt naturally- produced hormones in our bodies, which can wreck our fragile endocrine systems. What does this mean? Studies have linked phthalates to increased risk of infertility, breast cancer and even birth defects. Gross. Even worse, a product could have “phthalate-free” stamped on the front of the package, but if the ingredient list on the back contains the word “fragrance,” guess what? It probably contains phthalates! That’s enough to awaken the inner angry mama bear in just about anybody.

So, what’s a health-savvy gal to do? First, download the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living app. Scan a few of your beauty products and see how they register on the app’s scales that indicate concern regarding allergic reaction, potential carcinogenics and ingredients that could cause developmental delays. The higher a product’s score, the higher the potential to have a negative impact on your health. You can even scan your food! Then, it’s time to purge and toss at your discretion. I scanned some of the “natural” products in the drugstore years ago and was absolutely floored— and not in a good way. Next, do a little homework. Trust me, your body will thank you. The Healthy Living app has tons of low-health-impact options for everything from shampoo to baby food. Shop accordingly. Additionally, think twice before reaching for that bottle of perfume. Now don’t get me wrong— I love a delicate, well-crafted fragrance. My grandmother got me into loving perfume when I was young. I thought it was so glamorous to do the whole “spray and walk through it” technique last thing before she would walk out the door to go somewhere. I’m not saying to break up with your signature scent. But maybe just spritz clothing before putting them on instead of spraying directly onto your skin. Look for fragrance-free products and/or those that source their respective scent from essential oils and are naturally derived. Finally, share your knowledge! Let your girlfriends know when you find that perfect body wash/ lipstick/ shaving cream that’s also towing the line when it comes to healthier living. I’ll toast to that— cheers, friends!