The Dirty Dozen – 12 Chemicals to Avoid in Personal Products

It’s very scary what manufacturers put in the everyday products we use.  The ingredients are chemicals that enhance the colour or consistency, add or mask fragrance, or act as a preservative.  ThingSuzuki Dirty Dozen Chemicalss that make the product more attractive to the consumer.   The “Dirty Dozen” are 12 toxic chemicals that are commonly found in shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers, cleansers, and other skin and hair care products.  In fact, U.S. researchers report that 1 in 8 of the 82,000 ingredients in personal care products is an industrial chemical!  These can include carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors. and plasticizers.  These are products we slather into our skin.

David Suzuki is a well-known Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmentalist. His foundation conducted a survey to see how many of the Dirty Dozen ingredients were included in their bathroom products.  Their results were based on 6200 respondents reporting on more than 12,500 personal products.  The results were disturbing:

  • Almost 80 per cent of products reportedly contained at least one of the Dirty Dozen ingredients.
  • More than half of all products reportedly contained multiple Dirty Dozen ingredients
  • Participants were unable to locate ingredient lists on more than 1,000 products

I decided to look at some of the products in my own house after reading Dr. Suzuki’s report.

ceraVe Front

CeraVe is a fairly pricey drugstore moisturizer that I purchased because of its great reviews and the fact that it was “developed with dermatologists”   I was looking for a stronger product for my extra dry, itchy and sensitive skin this past winter.  While this cream is not organic, I wanted to try it since I had read that one of its ingredients, “ceramides” would help rebuild the collagen that I was losing post menopause and this appealed to my vanity.  The ingredients (copied from their website) are

Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Ceteayl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Carbomer, Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-Ii, Ceteareth-20 and Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Cholesterol, Dimethicone, Dipotassium Phosphate, Disodium Edta, Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Methylparaben, Petrolatum, Phenoxyethanol, Phytosphingosine, Potassium Phosphate, Propylparaben, Purified Water, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum

So CeraVe contains 2 types of parabens and petrolatum, ingredients that are on the Dirty Dozen list. I expect better considering that this cream was developed with dermatologists.

Next personal product is Dove Oxygen Shampoo for Men which my husband and son use.dove mens shampoo  Dove has fabulous marketing for its products targeted to women.  The current theme is “Let’s break the rules of beauty” and I’m sure you’ve seen their other “all women are beautiful” campaigns.  I have been impressed by their messaging for many years, even when they were only known as the soap maker that added 1/4 cup of cold cream to their soap.  They have a great reputation, that’s why I buy their men’s line of personal products for the me in my family.   The  ingredients for this bottle of Dove Oxygen Charge shampoo (from their website ) include:

“Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Parfum, Glycerin, Dimethiconol, TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Citric Acid, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, PEG-45M, Propylene Glycol, Caffeine, PPG-9, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, CI 42090, CI 17200.”

Wow, that is 4 different ingredients that are on the Dirty Dozen list. And as much as love Dove’s image, I’m not feeling comfortable about this.

I was already going down the path of using natural, organic products or making my own.  But I see that I need to be more vigilant.  Suzuki Shoppers Guide to ToxinsThere is a handy Shoppers’ guide on Dr. Suziki’s website that you can print and reference when shopping.  His website suggests that you read labels and avoid buying products with these ingredients.  He even goes so far as to advise you to send back open products to the manufacturer.  Other suggestions include buying natural products or those with short ingredient lists.  There are some other resources like the US Environmental Working Group and Queen of Green that focus on safer products.

This report makes me wonder if the sensitivity I have developed this decade is due to years and years of using products that contain chemical toxins?  It’s kind of scary.

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