(image from Pinterest)
When we were in the process of meeting with social workers about adopting a baby of another race, one of the questions asked was if we would be prepared to care for their hair. Of course, we said. How difficult could it be, we thought.
Well, let me tell you that it’s VERY difficult. And even the majority of black women I know moan about their hair. One friend even went so far as to tell me that the only time she wishes she was white is when it comes to her hair. And so to learn as much as I possibly can I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on black hair care regimes, watching YouTube videos and speaking to other black women, to find out which are the best natural hair products, which to avoid where possible and which to stay away from because our lives literally depend on it. I’ve since become far more aware of what’s in our day to day personal care products and I can, without any doubt tell you that there is nothing natural about the supposed natural products.
We have become obsessed with what we put into our bodies food wise, avoiding toxic chemicals and preservatives, yet we lather ourselves, and our little ones, with products that contain hormone disruptors and cancer-causing chemicals.
Dr. Frank Lipman has put a list together of chemicals to avoid in your, and your children’s, personal care products :
1. DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)
These three chemicals are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing agents—research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer. They are commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths, and facial cleansers. Having a look through Emma’s ‘natural’ shampoo I was horrified to see it contains all three!
2. Phthalates and Parabens
How often do you apply (or allow) someone to put nail polish on your little one? Banned by the European Union in 2003, phthalates and parabens are a group of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They keep hairsprays sticky and bacteria and fungus out of things like nail polish and perfume. Both have demonstrated themselves to be carcinogenic and particularly linked to breast cancer.
3. FD&C Color Pigments
Most FD&C color pigments are made from coal tar and studies show that almost all of them are carcinogenic. Many of these pigments cause skin sensitivity and irritation, or even oxygen depletion in the blood. FD&C Red #4 is no longer available for use in foods because of a known threat to the adrenal glands and urinary bladder.
“Fragrance” is a euphemism for nearly 4,000 different ingredients. Most “fragrances” are synthetic and are either cancer-causing or otherwise toxic. Exposure to fragrances has been shown to affect the central nervous system. “Fragrances” are found in most shampoos, deodorants, sunscreens, skin care and body care products.
5. Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin
These are formaldehyde donors, which means that they are derivatives of the formaldehyde, which is what scientists and morticians use to preserve corpses and body parts. Remember dissecting frogs in school? These chemicals are linked to allergies, chest pain, chronic fatigue, depression, dizziness, ear infections, headaches, joint pain, loss of sleep, and can trigger asthma. They can weaken the immune system, and—surprise surprise—cause cancer. Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin are used in skin, body and hair products, antiperspirants, and nail polish.
Quarternium-15 commonly causes allergic reactions and dermatitis and breaks down into formaldehyde. Quarternium-15 is used as a preservative in many skin and hair care products.
7. Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropyl Alcohol is used in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotion, and aftershave lotions as well as in your car’s antifreeze and shellac! Scientists believe that it has the ability to destroy intestinal flora, leaving the body’s major organs open to parasites, and thus to cancers. Beyond attacking the intestinal flora, isopropyl alcohol can cause headaches, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, and coma.
8. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is a petroleum derivative that coats the skin like Saran Wrap, which prevents the skin from breathing, absorbing, and excreting. It also slows the skin’s natural cell development, causing the skin to age prematurely. Note that baby oil is 100% mineral oil—and 100% bad for your baby’s sensitive skin.
9. PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)
PEGs are most commonly used in spray-on oven cleaners and in many hair and skin products. PEG’s main functions are to dissolve oil and grease. Thus, on the body, they take the protective oils off the skin and hair, making them more vulnerable to other toxins.
10. Propylene Glycol
Propylene Glycol is the active ingredient in antifreeze. It is also used in makeup, toothpaste, and deodorant. Stick deodorants have a higher concentration of PG than is allowed for most industrial use! Direct contact can cause brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. The EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing, and goggles when working with it. And yet, the FDA says we can put it in our mouths!
11. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are the most toxic ingredients on this list. AND BOTH WERE PRESENT IN MY DAUGHTER’S ‘NATURAL’ SHAMPOO! When used in combination with other chemicals, they can form nitrosamines, a deadly class of carcinogen. They are used to clean engines, garage floors, and at car washes. AND still the most popular ingredients for makeup, shampoo and conditioner, and toothpaste. Exposure causes eye damage, depression, diarrhea, and many other ailments.
Triclosan is the synthetic antibacterial ingredient used in soaps and disinfectant gels that has been compared to Agent Orange. The Environmental Protection Agency registers it as a pesticide, highly toxic to any living organism. It is also classified as a chlorophenol. In other words, it is in a cancer-causing chemical class. Triclosan disrupts hormones, can affect sexual function and fertility, and may foster birth defects. Triclosan has been linked to paralysis, suppression of the immune system, brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. It is widely used in antibacterial cleansers, toothpaste, and household products.
Talc has been linked to ovarian and testicular cancer. It can be found in makeup, kids and adult powders, and foundation.
Petrolatum is a petrochemical that contains two well-known carcinogens: Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluoranthene. As you might imagine from a petroleum derivative, petrolatum prevents the skin from breathing and excreting.
And what’s even more horrifying than this list is that I found AT LEAST four in Emma’s ‘organic natural’ shampoo and in a well-known brand for kids. And in their bubble bath!