Health-conscious individuals are becoming aware that potentially-harmful chemical ingredients are present in many personal care products. By regularly exposing the body to these ingredients in toothpastes, soaps, lotions, and so forth, we are drowning the body with chemicals. The body’s natural detoxification processes cannot keep up. That’s why “natural” alternatives have become so popular.
Yet, are these brands really that much better? Take Tom’s of Maine products, for example. Regardless of the marketing message that’s fed to consumers, Tom’s of Maine products contain some very questionable ingredients. Here’s the list:
1. Food-grade Carrageenan
This is what Cornucopia.org has to say about carrageenan:
Dozens of scientific, peer-reviewed studies used food-grade carrageenan and found it caused gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcerations, lesions and even colon cancer in laboratory animals. Most of these recent studies were funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
And recent studies funded by the American Diabetes Association have linked the consumption of food-grade carrageenan to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in mice.
2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
A group of eight plaintiffs filed a deceptive marketing class action lawsuit against Colgate-Palmolive, the owner of Tom’s of Maine. The plaintiffs claim that Tom’s of Maine products cannot be marketed as natural because it contains SLS. The lawsuit states:
“Sodium lauryl sulfate is factory-produced foaming agent that is created by complex processing and also does not occur in nature.”
SLS is a common ingredient in shampoos, dishwashing soaps and laundry detergents. The ethoxylation manufacturing process derives SLS from coconuts. Unfortunately, the same process also contaminates it with a carcinogenic by-product. Research studies on SLS have shown links to organ and reproductive toxicity, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, and cancer.
Potassium alum used in some of Tom’s of Maine products contains aluminum, even though the ingredient is a natural mineral salt. As aluminum accumulates in the body, it has very destructive effects.
A study out of the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that intake of aluminum induces learning and memory deficits. In addition to its effects on the central nervous system, studies show aluminum negatively impacts fertility.
4. Zinc Chloride
Used to freshen breath, zinc chloride is derived from purified zinc from the earth. Here’s what the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has to say about this chemical:
The substance is corrosive to the eyes and the skin. The aerosol is irritating to the respiratory tract.
Corrosive on ingestion.
The substance may cause effects on the pancreas, if ingested.
5. Titanium Dioxide
The fifth questionable ingredient, titanium dioxide, is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as “possibly carcinogen to humans.” The agency based this classification on “on sufficient evidence in experimental animals.” Furthermore, the agency states:
A relative risk assessment ranked manufacture of nano-titanium dioxide at 62 (range 0-100), similar to the assigned rank of automotive lead battery manufacture.
There is conflicting evidence as to whether nanoparticles of titanium dioxide can pass through the skin (Kiss et al., 2008; Wu et al., 2009). If they can, the presence of titanium dioxide in a large variety of cosmetic powders and creams may be a cause of concern.
In conclusion, the marketing term “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean the product doesn’t have any potentially-harmful ingredients. In addition, global conglomerates typically own “natural” brands. For example, Colgate-Palmolive out of New York owns the Tom’s of Maine brand. So don’t be fooled into thinking you’re supporting small or even medium-sized businesses.
Finally, large conglomerates such as Colgate-Palmolive have spent millions of dollars to defeat GMO-labeling initiatives. If you are comfortable using products with the above-listed ingredients, consider this corporation’s political stance. Colgate-Palmolive does not believe that you have the right to know if personal care products contain GMOs.
Luckily, there are still natural options out there, such as Dr. Bronner’s. Here are three of my favorite Dr. Bronner’s products:
- Dr. Bronner’s Toothpaste
- Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (I dilute and use it as hand soap, body soap, shampoo and in my household cleaners.)
- Dr. Bronner’s Hair Conditioner Rinse
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.