What damage can toxic ingredients cause in kids, especially teens? A Little knowledge is a dangerous thing! Most teens 14-18 are the victims of vanity and the pressures of society to look good no matter what and will hunt for products that “supposedly” mask their acne, or smell good or their friends recommend on social media. It is true that the personal care industry is one of the fastest growing consumer industry and is not regulated by FDA unless your product is a sunscreen. 90% of the products such as shampoos, cleansers, hair sprays, lipsticks, mascara, eyeliners, perfumed lotions, powders, deodorants, chap sticks, antiperspirants, shaving creams and nail polish to name a few targeted for teenagers and even tweens contain toxic ingredients that can cause severe harm to the health and more damage to the skin. Scientists feel confident that changes in our health – such as the increase in long-lasting diseases like cancer, puberty starting earlier, or reproductive problems in adult women – may be partly caused by all of the chemicals that we are exposed to every day. Skin is the largest organ and it takes just 28 seconds for chemicals in our skincare products to get absorbed into our skin and make their way into the bloodstream. Some chemicals of concern are: 1) 1,4 dioxane (found in shampoos, cleansers and things that sud): It is generated through a process called ethoxylation, in which ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen, is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh) and maybe disguised in the form of Sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds, chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth and oleth. 2) Octinoxate (the most common sunscreens found in the market contain this chemical which is a known carcinogen and a UV filter): It can be absorbed rapidly through skin. Octinoxate has been detected in human urine, blood and breast milk, which indicates that humans are systemically exposed to this compound which is an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen and can disrupt thyroid function. It is also found in hair color products and shampoos, lipstick, chap stick, nail polish, and skin creams. Octinoxate increases cellular proliferation that grow in response to estrogen exposure which over a long period has been linked to the development and progression of breast cancer. 3) Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (found in nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash, color cosmetics): In personal care products, formaldehyde can be added directly, or more often, it can be released from preservatives such as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol and glyoxal. Formaldehyde is considered a known human carcinogen by many expert and government bodies, including the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. 4) Phthalates (found in Color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes and hair care products, and nail polish): they have the potential health concern towards endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. They can be found as phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance. 5) Para-phenylenediamine (found in hair dyes): Consumers are primarily exposed to pphenylenediamine (PPD) through its use in permanent hair dyes that rely on chemical reactions (called oxidation) to fix the color where it is found in concentrations of about 4 percent and is a known skin sensitizer, carcinogen and for organ system toxicity. 6) Some other popular toxic ingredients are parabens, triclosan (found in anti-bacterial soaps), benzoyl peroxide (found in acne products), coal tar, and aluminum salts, and talc) What is important as a take home message is that we need to understand that our skin is a sponge and will absorb anything. Look out for these potential harmful ingredients and avoid using products that will only do damage. Seek for brands that are actively involved in educating consumers and are transparent about their process or backed by a scientist.