THE DETAILS: Researchers tested the blood and urine of 20 teenage girls, ages 14 to 19, looking for 25 chemicals often found in cosmetics. The teens involved in the study lived in different parts of the country and included white, black, Asian-American, and multiethnic girls. Tests detected 16 chemicals from 4 chemical families in either the blood or urine of the girls, including:
Phthalates, which have been linked with reproductive and developmental problems and an increased risk for asthma and allergies. They are often in products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient.
Triclosan, the bacteria-killing ingredient in antibacterial liquid soaps. Research suggests it can promote antibiotic resistance, which means some infections could start outsmarting our medicine. When it gets into the waste stream, triclosan can have a toxic effect on aquatic life. It’s also been linked to thyroid problems in people.
Parabens, possible endocrine disrupters and carcinogens; may impair fertility.
Synthetic musks, manmade chemicals used as fragrances and perfumes in many cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, and deodorants. Some have been linked to cancer in lab animals. “Musk” also refers to an odor some animals give off, but synthetic musks are made in labs.
If you want alternatives for yourself or the children in your lives, you’ll have to browse online or hunt through health food stores to find them. To start looking, check out Skin Deep, the EWG’s cosmetics safety database. And ask the makers of your favorite products to offer versions without questionable chemicals.
EWG scientists recommend avoiding products with these ingredients:
• Fragrance and dyes
• DMDM hydantoin and Imidazolidinyl urea
• Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone
• Parabens or “-paraben”
• Chemicals ending in “-eth”
• Sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate
• Triclosan and triclocarban
• Triethanolamine (TEA)
EWG’s list of products to avoid:
• Anti-aging creams with lactic, glycolic, AHA, and BHA acids
• Hair dyes containing ammonia, peroxide, p-phenylenediamine, diaminobenzene, and all dark permanent hair dyes.
• Liquid hand soaps with triclosan
• Nail polish and removers with formaldehyde