Although traditionally we think of women when we talk about cosmetics and bathroom products, but men use a handful as well. Shaving cream, aftershave, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo can usually be found in any man’s bathroom. But what’s actually in those products? Are you lathering your face in toxins every morning? The average Canadian uses 15 personal products with 100 different toxins in the morning. So for the majority of men out there, the answer is yes, you are covering your face and body in harmful creams that have been linked to cancer, fertility issues, hormonal problems and allergies. Fortunately, the Environmental Defense and the Environmental Working Group have done their research to help navigate this world of men’s ‘cosmetics’.
Let’s focus on 2 toxins in particular; triclosan and phthalates.
Found in deodorants, antiperspirants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers. Also found around the house lining garbage bags, kitchen utensils, laundry detergents, facial tissues and most products labelled ‘anti-bacterial’.
The health effects of triclosan are considered to be endocrine disruption, having a direct effect on your hormones, specifically on your thyroid. Where a small exposure to triclosan may not be harmful, we exposure ourselves to hundreds of triclosan containing products each day!
First manufactured in the 1960’s, triclosan was used then used in surgical scrub kits in the 70’s due to its antimicrobial properties. From there, industry started to add it to all sorts of products before much thought was given to potential health effects.
In August 2009, the Canadian Medical Association asked the Canadian government to ban triclosan use in household products in fear of its potential role in increasing the number of ‘super bugs’ or antibiotic resistant bacteria. In June of 2014, Minnesota officially banned the use of triclosan in antibacterial soaps. Since then, Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson have publicly announced that they will stop using triclosan.
Although these actions are steps in the right direction, the problem is also that triclosan easily bio-accumulates – builds up in the environment – since it does not readily breakdown or decompose.
How do you avoid such a ubiquitous compound? Read your labels, be informed, shop wisely. For an anti-bacterial effect, use soap and water – studies says it’s just as good at killing bugs.
Phthalates – pronounced ‘f-thay-lates’
Smell pretty? It could be the phthalates. These man-made chemicals are endocrine disruptors found primarily in scented products and are linked to asthma, and reproductive system problems. In 2008 the Journal of Andrology released a study that found that the average American male had sufficient levels of phthalates in his bloodstream to lower his testosterone levels. Low testosterone is linked with poor muscle tone and low sperm quality. Sounds good, eh? If your shaving cream or body wash smells good and ‘perfum’ or ‘fragrance’ is listed as an ingredient than beware.
Gradually phthalates are being phased out of use in Canada however always read labels carefully since dibutyl phthalate, DEHP and DEP and also phthalates. In doubt? Call the manufacturer.
In addition, this group of chemicals is widely used as a plasticizer to soften plastics such as in your fun plastic shower curtain. Persistent in the environment, phthalates are found in household dust particles, drinking water and fatty tissues (both in the meat you eat and in your body).
Curious about where else to find phthalates and their health effects, Wikipedia has some good info to get you rolling.
The bottom line, you can’t avoid phthalates or triclosans since they are now contaminating our environment. But you can make smart choices in the pharmacy, grocery store and each morning when you walk into the bathroom.
For a more complete list of toxins in your personal care products and a great pocket guide to download, check out the Personal Care Products Pocket Shopping Guide
For more info check these link out:
How to Get A Green Shave: http://environmentaldefence.ca/blog/tip-month-men-here%E2%80%99s-how-get-nice-green-shave
Skin Deep Cosmetics Database http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php?query=titanium+dioxide&h=Search