Toxic chemicals lurking in your vanity

The products you use every morning, evening and in between, could be costly to your health. Everything you can imagine in your vanity: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, perfume and body wash are common beauty products lurking with chemicals. Those products are detrimental to your health. You may be wondering why is this now a serious issue to consider when purchasing your next bottle of foundation?

Ingredients and contaminants within your cosmetic and skincare products are scientifically linked to long-term health concerns like cancer and reproductive problems, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Everything from makeup to skincare products contains ingredients of parabens, artificial perfumes and formaldehyde. We are blinded by the lengthy, ambiguous words of ingredients on the back of these products without being aware of the risks it could lead to down the road. 

The “Toxic 20” are 20 chemicals and contaminants found in everyday products linked to long-term health risks and acute effects like burns, infections, rashes and hair loss according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Steer clear of the “Toxic 20,” which are commonly found in foundations, nail polishes, sunscreens, mascaras and more.

To list a few, EWG states that toluene, a common solvent found in hair dyes, nail polishes and nail treatments releases a toxic chemical to the brain and the nervous system. Moreover, a chemical compound, triclosan, is used in deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste, hand sanitizer and shaving cream that affects your thyroid and reproductive hormones. 

Photo via Unsplash @laurachouette

Where we all go wrong with taking care of our bodies is with feminine hygiene products. Women desire their bodies to smell like roses and lavender. While we trial run every hygiene product in our vicinity like bath bombs, soaps, perfumes, etc., in reality, we are harming ourselves in the pampering routine. 

A huge no-no through the eyes of doctors is using feminine hygiene products that hinder your health and increase your risk of yeast infections and allergic reactions. A leader in feminine hygiene products, Summer’s Eve, advertises cleansing cloths and washes in scents of golden glamour, blissful escape and sunset oasis. As stated by Summer’s Eve, all of their products are clinically tested by gynecologists and dermatologists for safe use.

Photo via Summer’s Eve

Some doctors feel quite the opposite of this statement. On Psychology Today, Lissa Rankin, an OB-GYN specialist, speaks her mind on how your vaginas are supposed to smell like vaginas rather than blossoms, berries and gardens. 

Abby Rossman, junior studying apparel, merchandising and design at Iowa State University previously used Summer’s Eve products until she researched the product and discovered the ugly truth.

“I was shocked when I found out that [Summer’s Eve] products offset your pH levels,” Rossman said. “I don’t read up on a lot of that stuff but when I came across it on Snapchat, I realized it wasn’t safe for my downstairs and I should probably avoid using it.”

A feminine product that has been trending lately is Diva Cups. Not only are they safer and healthier for you but are also beneficial for the environment. 

“Diva Cups are ethical, good for the environment and cheaper in the long run,” said Izzi Wickus, junior studying elementary education at Iowa State University. “This feminine hygiene product is meant for females, it is BPA-free, ultra-hygienic, 12 hours up to no leaking and no latex, rubber or plastic.” 

Photo via Unsplash @ocilie

Menstrual cups are not associated with toxic shock syndrome. Moreover, tampons and pads contain bleach and dioxins that menstrual cups do not according to the World Health Organization

“Healthier products for your body are healthier for the environment in a way, reusable, natural, degradable,” said Wickus. “I feel like there’s sudden advocacy for harmful chemicals because climate change is becoming more serious every day and our generation is more aware of our world because we grow up with technology and knowledge of new sciences.”

If you’re not mentally prepared to switch to Diva Cups, organic tampons have been known to be safe both for the environment and females’ bodies. Rossman recently changed the brands of her tampons due to the uncomfortableness felt when using  U by Kotex. 

“This is T.M.I. but when I wore regular tampons it irritated down there, which was the main reason as to why I switched to organic cotton tampons,” said Rossman. “I’ve seen a drastic change in feeling more comfortable and freer when I’m on my period.” 

Photo via Unsplash @kalosskin

Navigating the waters of these unknown chemicals within your favorite, go-to products can be tricky. For the newbies out there, here’s where to start.

Keep it simple

Search for cosmetic, skincare or feminine hygiene products that list a small number of ingredients, along with ingredients you recognize. 

Research the facts

Figure out whether or not the product has been tested on animals and search for products that are paraben-free. Find brands that advocated for safe products and are phasing out the chemicals within their products.


Pinterest will become your new best friend. There are plenty of do-it-yourself home remedies for your skincare and feminine needs like hair oil and face masks.

Small adjustments

Start small and gradually progress to widening your product range. 

Swap this for that:

  • Tampons for menstrual cups
  • Deodorant for aluminum-free deodorant
  • Summer’s Eve for fragrance-free soap 
  • Chemical cosmetic, skin care products for natural, organic cosmetic, skincare products

Next time you make a Target run for your beauty and skincare necessities, consider what’s lying within the products first. 




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