5 Chemicals To Be Mindful Of

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By Fran of Heyfranhey.com

A couple weeks back we discussed our favorite natural and organic product lines. It was great to see how many of us loved and used the same brands. It was also extremely informative, learning of more healthy brands in the comments, which later prompted us to post a second list. Hopefully we will all be able to secure healthy products that are accessible, affordable and successful contributions to our beauty regimens.

I know it can get tricky for us, because product lines will say “Natural” or “Organic” without being fully so. It can often mean a few natural ingredients have been infused with chemicals to create the product. Make sure to base your purchase on the list of ingredients as a whole. It’s also smarter to financially support brands that are genuinely working hard for our well-being and not just concerned with profit. Those are the lines that should be taking up our shelves in stores.

Further research needs to be conducted to show clearer evidence of these harsh chemicals and their effects on our health. In the meantime, here are a few (of the many) toxins you should be aware of as a “Precautionary Principle”:

Parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl)

Parabens are preservatives. They are added to our beauty products because they block any forms of microbial growth and extend a product’s shelf life. Research shows, however, that exposure to these chemicals may also disrupt our normal hormone function. They can affect our reproductive systems and have been linked to breast cancer.

Sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate)

Sulfates are detergents. They are added to our beauty products because they are aggressive at removing grease (often used in car washes, as engine degreasers and garage floor cleaners) and help create the “lather” we look for in our cleansers. We are usually told to stay away because they dry our hair and skin out, but the effect is much stronger. The corrosion these chemicals cause on our layers of skin and hair follicles can cause hair loss and the gradual deterioration of our skin’s natural (oil) protection. Also linked to cancer.

Phthalates (butyl, dibutyl, butylbenzyl, diethyl)

Phthalates are commonly used as “penetration enhancers”, humectants and emoliants (also added to create fragrance). They are added to our beauty products because the oily texture is useful at helping lotions and cleansers have more slip, penetrating deeper into the skin/hair follicle. They help give the impression that the skin is softened and moisturized when in fact the chemical is leaving a residue to make it feel that way. Research shows that these chemicals have caused a wide range of birth defects and deformities, as well as lifelong reproductive impairments.

Formaldehyde (doazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15)

Formaldehyde is another preservative (commonly used to embalm bodies and preserve tissue samples). They are added to our beauty products because of the low cost and powerful ability to kill germs. Research shows, however, that the exposure to these chemicals has been linked to many cases of cancer, neuro (brain) toxicity, depression, chronic fatigue and allergies.

Mineral Oil

Mineral Oil is used as a moisturizer (when it should only be used as a sealant). This substance tends to be the most controversial of all. Many consider it to be refined, natural and harmless; finding it to be moisturizing. While others label it as “manufactured from crude oil”; inhibiting the natural moisturizing factor of your skin. Research also shows that Mineral Oil decreases the skin cell’s (and hair follicles) ability to exchange much-needed nutrients or to release its wastes.

Ladies, do you avoid any of these chemicals?

Fran is the author of HeyFranHey.com. She dispenses hair advice on Black Girl with Long Hair every Monday. Follow her on Twitter @heyfranhey.

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I'm a natural hair, nutrition and fitness blogger from New York City. Battling a kidney related illness that doctors couldn't seem to fix, I became obsessed with alternative medicine. After months of researching and finally curing myself, it became quite evident that healthy resources in our urban communities were lacking. I began my health & wellness tumblr in Dec of 2010 as somewhat of a journal, hoping to shed some light on my journey to health as well as our disconnection with healthy living. It's been my goal to create a safe haven where our wellness concerns could be shared and hopefully cured, as naturally as possible.