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I Am Putting What… Where? Chemicals in Common Products We Use

I recently wrote this article for The Balanced Mom Magazine.
The skin is the largest organ of our body. Everyday, we spend more and more money on health and wellness products, making it a more than a trillion dollar industry. But what are we putting on our skin, or even in the most absorbent areas of our bodies, our intimate parts?

The chemicals found in personal care, sexual wellness and beauty products pass through the skin, tissues and membranes and into the blood stream where they are carried throughout the body. Our magnificent bodies are on toxicity overload, storing the toxins in our tissue, especially in our fat cells. More and more cancerous tumors that are removed contain chemicals that are ingredients in topically applied products.

Toxins in personal care, sexual wellness and beauty products can be categorized into some of the following areas: neurotoxins, endocrine disrupters, irritants and allergens, and kidney/liver poisons. They are linked to many types of disease, including infertility, birth defects, skin problems, and even cancer. Oncologists, doctors specializing in cancer, often advise their patients to not use products with parabens. Parabens are chemical preservatives used widely throughout the beauty industry. You can find them in toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers, shave gels, lipstick, liquid foundations, and personal lubricants, among many others. Some studies suggest that parabens, once absorbed through the skin, act like estrogen possibly increasing the chances of developing estrogen-dependent conditions. Why is this chemical in almost every single cosmetic and personal care product that we use as women, if cancer doctors are saying not to use products that contain this toxin? It is still considered a “controversy” by many… The beauty industry will say that it uses minute amounts that are harmless. Perhaps if we used only one product that contains this prominent chemical preservative, it would be harmless. But on a typical morning, a person, especially women, may use multiple products containing these low amounts, compounding the effects. We have a choice of the products that we use, but it takes knowledge of what is in the products and the time to search out only the highest quality items.

When looking at sexual wellness products, such as personal lubricants, Glycol is a common ingredient in most commercial brands. Propylene Glycol is a faintly sweet and colorless, clear, viscous liquid that’s derived from natural gas (sounds sexy, doesn’t it?) It is found in Anti-Freeze. It is what is sprayed on airplane wings to de-ice them and it’s strong enough to remove barnacles from boats! The EPA considers Propylene Glycol so toxic that workers are required to wear protective clothing and warns against contact to prevent abnormalities to the liver, kidney and brain.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) – a carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that reduces the skin’s natural moisture and can increase the appearance of aging. It is often used in oven cleaners as well as antiperspirant.

Another item on Heathkeepers Magazine’s “Dirty Dozen” is Sodium Hydroxide. This is also known as “caustic lye” and is found in drain cleaner, and things like toothpaste and commercial personal lubricants.
It is important to look at sexual wellness products, because they are applied to the most absorbent parts of our bodies, our mucous membranes. Looking at a popular water-based lubricant, marketed to women, it is alarming to see the ingredients. This particular lubricant is glycerin- free, which is a plus since glycerin is a sugar and sugar feeds yeast, disrupting the PH balance of the vagina. The ingredient list is as follows: Water, HEC, PEG45, Methylparaben, proplyparaben, ployquaternium5, tetrasodium edta, germall II, sodium benzoate, aspartame, polysorbate 20, Aloe Vera extract, Ginseng extract, guarana extract, avena sativa extract, sodium hydroxide, propylene glycol, citric acid. Please note that is does state “For Topical Use Only”. However, most women use lubricant internally or sexually with their partner. Doctors are now saying that the ingredients in the most popular brands of commercial personal lubricant actually kill sperm and can this can cause issues for those trying to conceive.

Another, lesser known and available lubricant company, Sliquid Organics, is made in the USA and their Natural Lubricant contains: Purified water, plant cellulose (from cotton), Organic Aloe Barbadesis, Vitamin E, Guar Conditioners, Organic Extracts of Hibiscus, Flax, Green Tea, and Sunflower Seed; Citric Acid, Rose Ether. Which would you rather be using on your private parts?
Another product that can be harmful to our intimate, absorbent areas of the body, are some Adult Toys. There are currently no regulations on Adult “Novelty” products, which adult toys are commonly marketed as. In fact, chemicals that have been outlawed in children’s toys, in both the US and in Europe, are still allowed in adult toys. Phthalates (pronounced THAY-lates) are a chemical compound added to plastic to make it soft and flexible. They are commonly used in the production of adult toys to provide a realistic feel, both in very inexpensive jelly toys and high-end skin-identical toys. Again, when picking out products, look for high-quality items that are made out of body-safe materials, such as silicone.
Glass toys are also becoming increasingly popular, but be warned not all glass is created equal. Glass made in China can contain any material, including lead and mercury. American-made glass, such as the tempered glass from Phallix Glass is lead-free and dishwasher safe. Borosilicate glass, marketed under the name brand Pyrex, is often recommended by doctors because it is non-porous and sanitary and can withstand extreme temperatures and physical shock without compromising the beauty.
Recently, thanks to an innovative marketing campaign by Sir Richard’s Condoms, it was brought to light that the majority of latex condoms are thinned with fillers and also contain casein, derived from dairy products. With so many people avoiding dairy for dietary reasons, beliefs, or allergies, it is hard to believe that it would be found somewhere so unexpectedly. Latex allergies are real and increasingly common, but perhaps some are a dairy allergy instead of a latex allergy.
Please look the next time you grab something for your beauty routine or intimate encounter… it may not be what you are expecting to be absorbed into your body.
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