Parabens. Sulfates. Silicone. Oh, and that other one that no one can pronounce, phthalates.
There’s a lot of talk about these common ingredients lurking in our common products, but until recently, they just seemed like multi-syllabic, science-y words that meant little to us consumers.
Turns out, they’re more problematic than that. And luckily, we’ve wisened up. Now, we notice these ingredients because they’re usually attached to “free”, as in “paraben-free”. So why is that such an important distinction? Allow us to clarify—and not just here, but in every product of PrepU.
What is it: A preservative intended to help prevent bacterial or fungal growth in products, like shampoos, moisturizers and even food, so they last longer.
Why it’s harmful:Whether through the skin or mouth, these chemicals get into our system. When parabens get into our system, research has shown that they can nestle themselves inside cancer tissues thanks to their ability to mimic estrogen and thus, disrupt normal hormone function. Too much estrogen equals too much cell division and tumor growth. Though the jury’s still out on whether parabens actually cause cancer, we’re filing this under better safe than sorry.
What is it: A detergent that attracts both dirt and water—one end of the molecule grabs onto dirt, the other end to water—to help clean. Sulfates are found in daily hygiene products like shampoos, body wash, toothpaste and are the reason for the lather we’ve all come to know and expect.
Why it’s harmful:Basically, sulfates are too good at their job. They’re extremely harsh, and therefore, disrupt the body’s natural balance of oils and moisture. But that’s just the superficial stuff. The more concerning consequence of sulfates is that they’ve been found to leave residue in the heart, lungs and brain. Again, irrefutable evidence of cancer-causing connections are still to come, but we’re not really willing to roll the dice for a little lather.
What is it: An industrial-strength chemical used to soften plastics and even help cosmetics remain crack-free. Phthalates are literally all around you and can be found in everything from deodorant and shampoo to insect repellant and milk, likely because of the tubing used to milk the cows. Hair spray, laundry detergent, shower curtains, wallpaper—the list is long.
Why it’s harmful:Though anything that can be in both milk and deodorant should make us think twice, the hard-and-fast reason to steer clear of these pervasive chemicals are due to their ability to mimic and displace hormones (not unlike parabens), altering normal hormone production. When normal hormone production is disrupted, risks of birth defects, immune deficiencies and irregular metabolism can increase.
Bottom line, we can continue to find bliss in our ignorance and cite the lack of black-and-white proof for our obliviousness, or we can find relief in knowing that if nothing else, we’re putting a few less unnatural chemicals in our bodies. We vote natural.