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What the Heck is in My Stuff?
Understanding Beauty Product Labels

Many common beauty and body products are full of hidden ingredients with adverse effects. Understanding product labels is key to ensure the products you choose to use on your body are going to support optimal health. Read below to learn more!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium lauryl sulfate has been shown in clinical studies around the world to be a skin irritant. Long term accumulation in the body affects hormonal balance due to its estrogen mimicking activity. Sodium lauryl sulfate is very irritating to the eyes, especially for children. Some studies indicate that residual levels of this chemical remain in the heart, liver, lungs and brain after being absorbed through the skin.

Hydrolyzed Protein

To make hydrolyzed protein, long protein strands are broken down into smaller chains through the use of enzymes. These smaller chains may include sequences of 200 or more amino acids into various combinations. Most hydrolyzed proteins are made from whey, soy, grains, silk, fish, and bovine parts including the hide. 

Hydrolyzed protein creates a film over the hair and skin to impart a smooth and improve hair and skin texture. The downside of the process is the chemicals that are used for the hydrolyzation process. Manufactures can hydrolyze soy proteins using a process that involves harsh chemicals. The soy is boiled in a vat with sulfuric acid which neutralizes the solution into a caustic soda. The by-product or sludge is scraped off the vat and allowed to dry. This yields MSG, or monosodium glutamate, commonly used as a food additive.

Glycol Distearate

Glycol distearate is an additive used to condition the skin which gives a pearlescent appearance to the product. This chemical may be derived either from animal sources (cow - or hog) or vegetable sources. What concerns most people about this ingredient is that it is made from ethylene glycol, the same chemical used to make antifreeze, de-icing solutions for cars and planes, hydraulic brake fluids, lacquers, wood stains, and waxes. This chemical may make the product itself more attractive but has no benefits for your skin.


Triclosan is used in hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps, toothpaste, dishwashing liquids, skin cosmetics, and body wash. Triclosan acts as a preservative or antibiotic. However, triclosan has shown up in urine tests and has been associated with hormone disruption. There are also concerns about it getting into the water supply. This product was banned by the FDA in 2016 but may still appear in some products.


EDTA or Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid is a metal binding compound used in hair and skin care products to prevent deterioration of the product. It is used in salt form as a crystalline powder or as an aqueous solution. EDTA is added to products as a binder and to prevent rancidity. EDTA is considered to be a low-hazard ingredient in skincare products and personal cleanliness products though it causes abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and skin problems when consumed.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is a substance found in shampoos, skin care products, room deodorizers, and prescription medications. In fact, it is found in products too numerous to mention! Sensitive people who are exposed to propylene glycol can suffer from irritation, burning sensations, vomiting, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. This chemical enters the body as an alcohol and metabolizes in the body's enzyme pathway. This is especially harmful to infants and children below the age of four years of age. Renal failure is a potential adverse reaction. Propylene glycol has many industrial and commercial uses in antifreeze, solvents, and paint.

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