Let’s Start with the Endocrine System
The endocrine system is one of the three main control systems of the body (nervous and immune systems being the other two). It really does handle a lot more than just your hormones. It maintains homeostasis, influences growth and repair, and handles the bodies response to stress to name a few.
What is included in the endocrine system - pituitary gland, pineal gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal, and ovaries. All of these organs produce hormones, and maintain a very delicate balance. When something is off each organ can either make to much (hyper) or to little (hypo) of the hormone they produce.
Your body creates more than 50 different hormones. This is so much more than just estrogen and testosterone. The endocrine system is holding such a delicate balance in the body, and delicate is actually a good way to describe them. They are easily influenced. 1 in 8 women will have a thyroid disorder in their lifetime. Not to mention that 70% of Americans are hypothyroid or have an underactive thyroid. This just shows that the thyroid is extremely sensitive to stress and toxins.
We need the right hormone, at the right time, in the right amount.
Symptoms your hormones might be off balance:
- PMS or heavy, irregular, or painful periods
- Weak or brittle bones
- Breast tenderness
- Indigestion, constipation or diarrhea
- Acne around your period
What is an Endocrine Disruptor?
According to the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effect. Ya'll it is crazy to me that it is just accepted that the aforementioned issues are accepted as issues caused by chemicals.
Basically what happens is the endocrine disruptor mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like estrogen and thyroid hormones. This potentially causes over stimulation of the hormone. Bottom line: our bodies sees these chemicals as actual hormones (that they made), so it messes up how we actually make them.
The most researched endocrine disruptor is BPA, coming from plastic. You have probably heard of this. “Don’t leave your plastic water bottle in a car, don’t store your food in plastic, etc.” It has been researched to a point where it is accepted that this chemical impacts of body’s estrogen levels.
It is even more crazy to me that there are accepted endocrine disruptors that have not gotten as much attention as BPA. BPA is not the only chemical that has an impact on your hormones. It is just the most researched one. I was shocked when I figured out that there were endocrine disruptors that I was putting on my skin… right next to my thyroid and ovaries.
Top Three Endocrine Disruptors on Your Skin
What is it? At its’ core it is just a preservative. Originally created to stop bacteria from growing in cosmetics. Basically, it keeps your makeup from going bad.
Yall it is also in our foods, but that is for another article.
What is the problem? Parabens mimic estrogen and bind to their receptor cells. Parabens have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. They have been linked, all the way from disrupting your estrogen balance to actually increasing your risk for getting breast cancer.
What is it in? According to the FDA, cosmetics that may contain parabens include makeup, moisturizers, hair care products, and shaving products, among others.
How does it appear on labels? According to the FDA: the most commonly used are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates., and ethylparaben. Expect to see more than one on the label. Notice that the word always ends with paraben.
Alternatives? Brands that specifically say they are paraben free and release their entire ingredient lists. Ones I have researched as paraben free brands are Beautycounter, Root, Aveda and Burt’s Bees.
What is it? They are mainly chemicals added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity.
What is the problem? This study was published by, The Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel on Phthalates after much buzz around a report released by the CDC, protraying the phthalates in a negative light. Basically what they said, was to name a public health issue and there is likely a link to phathales. To be more specific it has been linked to: hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues (lower sperm count).
What is it in? Approximately 8.4 million tons of phthalates are produced globally every year. They are in everything from sex toys (yap I said it) to food wrappers, to electronics. They are also in beauty products like: nail polish, hair sprays, lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other fragrance preparations. Want to know something crazy, Congress has banned these chemicals from being used in some toys. Ya’ll they know they are impacting your health.
How does it appear on labels? According to the FDA, “ dibutylphthalate (DBP), used as a plasticizer in products such as nail polishes (to reduce cracking by making them less brittle); dimethylphthalate (DMP), used in hair sprays (to help avoid stiffness by allowing them to form a flexible film on the hair); and diethylphthalate (DEP), used as a solvent and fixative in fragrances.”
3. Synthetic Fragrances
What is it? A mixture of chemicals that provide a manufacture with the desired scent. How your products smell is the master work of a chemist. This is the cheapest way to make scents.
What is the problem? These chemicals are toxins that have the potential to cause cancer, create birth defects, and lead to serious nervous-system disorders. Most of them are common allergens as well. Not to mention that some of these chemicals are listed on the EPA’s list of hazardous waste. Ya’ll...
What is it in? Beauty products from perfume to shampoo to lotions. Anything that smells really good.
How does it appear on labels? Fragrance. By putting the word fragrance on the label they don’t have to disclose what chemicals are in the product. If someone isn’t willing to tell me everything in their product, I am just not comfortable using it.
Alternatives? Buy unscented or “fragrance free” products. Certified organic products do not have synthetic fragrance. As I have previously mentioned I love Beautycounter, everything is fragrance free. Also Primally Pure’s product line smells wonderful by using essential oils alone. Additionally my two favorite safe perfume lines are Skylar and Phulr.