Be careful with personal care products

If we have health problems, we often think that the cause may be because of what we ate, or a lack of exercise. But it could be something else. Did you ever think about how many toxins we are all exposed to every day, mostly without even realizing it?

Almost all of us use products like shampoo, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, lip balm, sunscreen, lotion, aftershave, or perfume, on a daily basis. We don’t normally read the ingredient list. Even if we do, the ingredients are hard to pronounce, and even harder to understand.

Like most other people, I thought that the products were being checked for safety before being offered for sale. However, the manufacturers are not required to show any health studies or pre-market testing before product release. In fact, many studies show how dangerous the exposure to these chemicals can be. The multiple use combination effect can have a big impact on our quality of life, and cause many diseases.

More than 10,500 different chemical ingredients are used in the production of personal care products. Some of these are known or suspected carcinogens (cancer causers), they are toxic to the reproductive system, or known to disrupt the endocrine system.

During my recent research, I was shocked to see just how toxic the ingredients are. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a hazard rating, where 1 is the lowest and 10 the highest. Ingredients, in items that you’ll find in almost every home, regularly rate 8 or higher on the hazard index. For example, If you only use deodorant and mouthwash then there’s a good chance you’re being exposed to BHT, sodium laureth sulfate, formaldehyde, fragrance, and many more toxic chemicals every day.

Also, due to the weakness of the current cosmetics rules, many products with a “green”, or positive, rating contain ingredients that have not been tested. So these products may be free of ingredients that we know or suspect to present health hazards. But they contain other ingredients that we know nothing about!

Here’s a few tips to reduce your toxic exposure. Try switching to 100 percent USDA — organic shampoo, pure baking soda instead of antiperspirant, and water mixed with 100 percent pure peppermint essential oil in place of mouthwash. The EWG website has an excellent“EWG Certified” program that provides great information on many non-toxic alternatives. I believe that if you can’t eat it, you can not put on your skin too. Switching to safe alternatives does not have to be more expensive, and the benefits could just save your life.


Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii. She can be reached at, or (808) 276-6892


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