by Julie George

Most of us begin our days applying deodorant, shampoo, soaps, lotions and cosmetics without much thought. Loyal to our favorite brands, we’ve been buying them for years. However, many of our tried-and-true products contain ingredients that could be harmful to our health. 

With more than eighty thousand chemicals being used in commerce today, we’re constantly being bombarded with chemicals that can contribute to an increase in our body’s toxic burden. While we can’t control every ounce of chemical exposure, one area we do have control over is when it comes to personal care products.

It’s not an easy task; however, becoming familiar with the ingredients in those products, and choosing the healthiest possible products, will reduce the amount of toxins our bodies are being exposed to each day.

The most toxic everyday exposures from cosmetics include parabens, phthalates, 1,4 dioxane, petroleum-derivatives, and heavy metals. We absorb a portion of these chemicals and metals through our skin and respiratory system. Scientific evidence points to chemical exposure as contributing to cancer, infertility, hormone dysfunction, neurological disorders and autoimmune disease. Therefore, to prevent disease or reduce symptoms we must focus on reducing our body’s burden of chemicals.

Unfortunately, not all chemicals are listed on product labels. For example, according to the SafeCosmetics.org website, the FDA does not require the chemical 1,4-dioxane to be listed as an ingredient “because the chemical is a contaminant produced during manufacturing. Without labeling, there is no way to know for certain whether a product contains 1,4,-dioxane, making it difficult for consumers to avoid it.”


Avoidance is the best way to reduce the body’s daily toxic burden. The EWG.org/skindeep is a great website that lists personal care products and their potential health risks. Those that suffer from chronic conditions or who want to prevent chronic conditions may choose to use advanced testing options to determine levels within the body. Working with a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doctor that focuses on environmental medicine can be beneficial in ensuring your body is not being affected by past or current exposure to chemicals.

Dr. Julie George practices environmental medicine and specializes in autoimmune disorders at Rivercreek Wellness, located at 521 N. Argonne Rd., Ste B105, Spokane Valley, WA. For more information, call 509-919-1385 or visit RiverCreekWellness.com.