Seek Purity in Your Personal Care Products
We live in a highly chemical world, and the effects of chemical substances on our bodies are still being investigated. Luckily, consumer-advocacy groups are aware of this. In recent years, some consumer-advocacy groups in the United States and Europe have expressed particular concern about the possible effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals on our bodies. Some link the hormone-disrupting chemicals found in so many of our personal products and foods to the vast increase in incidences of testicular cancer, breast cancer, early puberty and low sperm counts in men.
What chemicals are being questioned?
For one: parabens. Parabens (including propylparaben, methylparaben and ethylparaben and butylparaben) are preservatives that are frequently used in food, cosmetics and personal products including antibacterial toothpastes. One survey found parabens in 99 percent of products used on the skin. The effects of parabens can include skin irritation, rash, dermatitis or allergic skin reactions. In addition, a study done in the UK suggests that parabens act like the hormone estrogen in laboratory mice.
While the low amounts of parabens contained in most personal care products have been deemed "generally recognized as safe" by the government, some agencies are calling for a reassessment of the safety of parabens, since the cumulative effect of low exposures of parabens over a period of time has not been studied. Currently, the Children's Health Environmental Coalition advises that parents and pregnant women avoid products that contain parabens.
How can you avoid parabens and other such chemicals?
You can avoid them by buying organic, natural, preservative-free personal care products. To determine what you are buying, read ingredients lists. Remember that the word "natural" on a label is no guarantee that it's chemical- and preservative-free. Shopping at natural foods stores also does not guarantee you are getting natural, preservative-free products. Look for simple ingredients that you recognize. To help you sort through ingredients lists, use a dictionary such as the Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter, MS (available at the Bastyr Dispensary).
At the Bastyr Dispensary, we read products' ingredients lists for you — before we ever put it on our shelves. All of the personal products we carry are free of parabens and other synthetic agents. Brands we carry include:
Aromaleigh - Natural shampoo, conditioners and antibacterial hand spray
Borlind - Preservative-free sunscreen
Burt's Bees - A wide variety of skin and hair care products, and natural insect repellent
Gifts from the Earth/Bella Body - A pure skin care line from a single-woman-run business in Portland
Giovanni - Natural and preservative-free shampoo, conditioner, mousse and spray-in conditioner/sunscreen for hair
Martina Gebhardt - A German company that does not do animal-testing and sells high-quality organic products that contain no synthetic preservatives or additives.
The Bastyr Dispensary also carries their special cleanser, tonic, cream and lotion for hypersensitive skin. For more information about these products, call the Bastyr Dispensary at 206.834.4114.
Writer: Sydney Maupin, Staff Writer
Contributor: Kelly Uusitalo
Sources: Childrens Health Environmental Coalition, Friends of the Earth, Introduction to Hormone Disrupting Compounds
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