Carcinogens in products stashed in your cupboard
Kick cancer-causing carcinogens in products to the curb.
How your cleaning and beauty rituals could be impacting you and your family—and our favorite, super easy replacements.
Nowadays, it’s hard to keep up with all the things. You’re busy! You don’t have time to research what the heck big brands are putting in their products. Or what the latest health scare is. You just want to be able to live your best—and healthiest—life. That’s why we do the research for you, so you can get the SparkNotes and prioritize your wellness journey.
Our latest bone to pick: Hidden carcinogens in products you use every day.
What are carcinogens?
The existence and effect of carcinogens are highly researched and scientifically validated. A carcinogen is defined as a substance that can cause or increase the risk of developing cancer. Examples of carcinogens include:
- The sun’s rays
- Sunscreen (ironic, right?)
- Car exhaust
- Burnt food
- Cleaning products
Some exposure to carcinogens is inevitable, which is why it’s super important to limit carcinogens in what you can control, like the products you use regularly. While the level of carcinogens in these products may be low, exposure over time can still pose a threat to your health.
Simply put: You don’t want carcinogens in your home. Luckily, there are better alternatives!
Carcinogens in products
Let’s look at some common household carcinogens, why they’re used, and where you’ll find them. And yea—we were shocked too when we first learned about this list.
What is Formaldehyde and where is it found?
Formaldehyde is used as an industrial disinfectant. It’s also found in adhesives, permanent-press fabrics, and pressed-wood materials like plywood. The National Institute of Health and the The International Agency for Research on Cancer both classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.
The dangers of Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde exposure is linked to nasal cancer in the throat and sinuses, and an increased risk of leukemia.
What is Benzene and where is it found?
Benzene often contaminates products such as sunscreen and dry shampoo. This contamination comes from benzene’s chemical attachment to butane, a chemical commonly used in aerosolized products. Know a Stage 1 clinger? That’s benzene to butane. Benzene is also released when burning paraffin-wax candles. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies benzene as carcinogenic to humans.
The dangers of Benzene
Exposure to benzene causes acute myeloid leukemia and has been linked to other leukemias as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
What is BHA and where is it found?
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a synthetic preservative used in foods and personal care products like lotions. It’s classified as “reasonably anticipated” and “likely” to be a human carcinogen by The National Institute of Health and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, respectively. And you put that on your FACE? 😬
The dangers of BHA
Exposure to BHA in animal studies caused benign and malignant stomach tumors, and in some cases exacerbated existing tumors. BHA is also an endocrine disruptor, mimicking the hormone estrogen, and disrupting the male and female reproductive systems. This can lead to issues with birth outcomes, fertility, and baby’s development.
What are Parabens and where are they found?
Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics, food, and drugs to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Think sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioner—things you use ALL THE TIME. Parabens are usually listed under the names methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Then there’s the worst of them all: Isopropylparaben. It’s the most dangerous and is actually banned in cosmetics in the EU.
The dangers of Parabens
Parabens, like BHA, are endocrine disruptors as well. They also aren’t regulated by the FDA (we’re angry about this too). Current studies suggest that parabens can even be linked to breast cancer.
What is Triclosan and where is it found?
Triclosan is an ingredient used to prevent or reduce contamination from bacteria, so it’s often found in hand soaps, dishwashing detergent, body wash, cosmetics, and toothpastes that are labeled as antibacterial.
The dangers of Triclosan
Triclosan is pretty scary! It’s been linked to breast cancer. In animal studies, it’s also been shown to increase inflammation in colonic tissue (colitis), leading to increased colitis-associated colon cancer. These studies show that high levels of triclosan exposure, even in the short term, disrupt and reduce thyroid hormones. There are also ongoing studies in humans investigating the potential breakdown on the skin of triclosan into other chemicals by UV rays. Regardless, we prefer to play it safe while they sort out the details!
Clean replacements for products with carcinogens
So, how can we make our homes carcinogen-free? The first step is reading product labels, especially of the big culprits we talked about above.
Look for products that are Green Seal certified, which forbid the inclusion of carcinogens and other toxins, or EcoLogo certified, which are always made without carcinogens, ammonia, or bleach. These certifications also take into account environmental sustainability, so they’re not just good for you, but for the planet too. 💛
Our personal favorites are Ecos dish soap, which are vegan, hypoallergenic, and sustainable. We also like Method products, which range from personal to home care, and are cruelty, paraben, and phthalate free. We highly recommend you check out their antibacterial spray which contains citric acid instead of triclosan. So good!
Another option is to switch to natural and organic household products, or even make your own. A simple, effective DIY counter cleaner can be made with some lemon juice and vinegar, and you can swap out aerosolized dry shampoo for a homemade version with arrowroot or cornstarch.
We believe knowledge is power, and it’s up to you how you want to incorporate this information into your life. If you want to find and replace all your products at once, go for it, or for a more sustainable alternative choose to replace products with their non-toxic counterparts once you’ve already run out.
How to make lasting changes
If you’re feeling totally overwhelmed by this, our best advice is to start small. Pick a couple products to replace, and grow from there the next time you have to restock something.
And if you’re looking for carcinogen-free, no-BS, non-toxic skincare that works, we’ve got you. Browse our shop to get started on your journey to the skin you’ve always wanted—naturally.