Toothpaste! It seems simple enough doesn't it? A tube of 'harmless', cleansing paste – with all the 'trustworthy authority' of a big-name-brand...
But just what is this 'stuff' that we not only rub vigorously around our gums and teeth (no doubt swallowing a proportion in the process)...but also encourage our kids to do the same, too – what – maybe 2 (or even three or more) times-a-day?
Here are some typical 'recipes'...well they're actually 'ingredients lists' for a couple of well known toothpaste products:'Sensitive' toothpaste (1):
Besides the 'active ingredients' - Tripotassium citrate monohydrate and Sodium Monofluorophosphate - this paste includes:
Sorbitol, Water, Hydrated silica, SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE, POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL 1500 (PEG 1500), Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, Sodium saccharin, Trisodium phosphate, Flavour
'Sensitive' toothpaste (2):
Besides the 'active ingredient' - Strontium chloride hexahydrate - this paste includes:Water, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Calcium carbonate, Hydroxymethylcellulose, Silica, Acid taurate, Pepermint oil, PEG-40 STEARATE, METHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN
Let's take another product...what about one that makes shaving 'so much easier' (Was it that hard before?) –
Here are the ingredients of just one 'Shave Gel' product:
Aqua (a posh name to disguise the fact that they are 'selling' you 'mostly water'!), TRIETHANOLAMINE, Palmitic Acid, OLETH-20, Isopentane, Persea gratissima, COCOAMIDE DEA, Sorbitol, Polyisobutane, Hydroxymethylcellulose, METHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN, Menthol, BHT, Mentha arvensis, CI42051 (that's patent 'blue V' – colouring), CI47005 (and that's 'quinoline yellow' coloring)
(NOTE: The capitalizations in the ingredients lists are ours - because we suggest you look up the 'highlighted' ingredients in particular in our complementary 'Toxic Ingredient Directory')
It is pretty clear that these 'every day' products, like shave gels and toothpaste, designed to be applied to our sensitive facial skin, or actually put in our mouth and applied to the extremely sensitive 'gums' (an area that is also well-known to be somewhere that substances are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream) are actually amazing – if not frightening – chemical concoctions.
For most of us who have bothered to look at ingredients on the tubes and tins of products like toothpaste and other personal care products – we would probably have little (or no) idea of what these ingredients actually are - or what they do. In fact I'd guess that (if you are at all like I was) the least you would EXPECT, is that the manufacturers, being 'brand names', are 'bound to ensure' that all ingredients used in such products are 'completely safe' for everyone to use...
Close to 11,000 chemicals that have been developed over the last half-century – for potential use in personal care products (this includes – skin care, hair care, oral care) and cosmetics. The VAST majority of these (around 9 out of 10!) have never been subject to exhaustive tests (such as a pharmaceutical product would require) to ensure that they are 'absolutely safe' for use on the human body.
Let's just look at an 'example' ingredient that appears in one of the toothpaste formulations above...to illustrate what I mean...
And dont' forget – YOU and (worse still if they are 'being good' and 'brushing regularly') YOUR KIDS may be being exposed to these chemicals several times a day...
SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE (SLS):
Used in numerous toothpaste 'recipes'...Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (or Sulfate in the US) - often shortened to SLS - is now quite infamous, not least for the fact that it is used so widely in the formulations of many, many paersonal care products. Check your:
- bath and shower crèmes and gels
- liquid hand soap
(as well as many other bathroom products)...you are BOUND to find SLS (or SLES - mentioned below) in some or maybe even ALL of them!
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is used for the same purpose in toothpaste as it is in bubble-bath - as a foamer and detergent. BUT SLS is a particularly strong, harsh detergent as well as having good foaming qualities. Indeed SLS is used to clean oil spillage from petrol forecourts, it is so effective...Plus it is especially preferred by personal care products 'manufacturers' because it is very cheap.
Technically SLS is a 'surfactant', an 'emulsifier', and a 'denaturant'. It is well KNOWN to be a harmful skin irritant that is particularly nasty in contact with the delicate eye, and mucous membranes (this is the main reason for instructions to 'flush your eyes with plenty of water' if you get shampoo in them – because SLS is known potentially to cause damage to the eyes - especially worrying in youngsters!).
SLS is just an unpleasant chemical that should just NOT be used on (or in!) the human body! – Due to growing negative media coverage in the last few years SLS has been removed or 'replaced' in SOME products (but you have to check 'what with' - see below!!). However, it is still very widely found in many well known, off-the-shelf, big-brand products...even though it is known to be:Toxic to the liver and kidneys,
Toxic to aquatic animals/fish (remember many tons of this stuff washes-off down our drains!!)
On the NIH hazards list
Known to trigger eczema and skin problems
And surprisingly!!(Or maybe not? As personal care products manufacturers evidently prioritise profit above people!)...given its appearance in toothpaste, and due to its irritant properties SLS is...Known to cause mouth ulcers!!!
(A BRIEF ASIDE: Indeed - I have a theory [and pending further research on the topic...I can say it is only MY theory] that in recent times we seem to have suffered an 'epidemic' of sensitive teeth. Have you noticed...most major toothpaste brands have 'expanded their range' to include a 'sensitive' version. What could be behind this 'plague' of sensitive gums and teeth so many folks in the West suffer...could problems be exacerbated by ingredients like Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Suphate in the toothpaste products themselves? BUT would manufacturers actually market products that cause a problem that allows them to SELL you additional/new/more expensive products? Surely not! ;-D)
Some manufacturers of personal care products use a slightly less harsh version of SLS - Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) this ingredient is also often found in the same range of personal care products. SLES is actually SLS that has been through a process of 'ethoxylation' (any chemical with the suffix '-eth' in ingredients lists has been through this process...take a look at other examples in the lists above. And NOTE - They ALL have the same drawbacks!)- which involves 'adding' a constituent from the gas ethane - 'ethyl' and oxygen, to SLS which makes it somewhat less abrasive and makes it foam more. The problem with the process of ethoxylation is that it has been shown that chemicals treated in this way can become contaminated with carcinogenic (cancer-causing) agents known as 'nitrosamines'.
(ANOTHER BRIEF ASIDE: Do you recall those news reports not so long ago - about a doctor trying to raise awareness of rising rates of mouth cancer?!!! Could it just be coincidence that over the last 2 decades many of us have habitually been using nice 'foamy' toothpaste that might just contain potential 'carcinogens'? The authorities would NOT seems to even consider this issue...they prefer to talk of increasing alcohol consumption, or tobacco use, as major culprits...BUT we say...why take the risk...stop using 'synthetic chemical laden' toothpaste NOW!... AS WELL AS cutting down on drinking, and stopping smoking... OF COURSE ;-)!)
Yet other manufacturers exploit the fact that SLS/SLES now have a bad name - and actually market their product as 'Free from SLS/SLES'...but a cursory examination of the label often confirms that they are using something like Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate (ALS), or Ammonium Laureth Sulphate (ALES) instead. These alternative foamers/surfactants are, frankly, JUST AS BAD as SLS/SLES, as they also have the same disadvantages/risks...so use of such ingredients, and marketing as 'free from SLS/SLES' is SIMPLY A BLATANT CON!
For more information about 'toxic' ingredients in everyday personal care products, such as those in CAPITAL LETTERS in the ingredients lists above – go to our 'Toxic Ingredient Directory' page and request a free copy of our e-booklet now! Become a 'toxic chemical spotter' – and help preserve your own, and your kids long-term health!
Be safe, be healthy, go natural and organic wherever you can in your life! For a wide range of 100% natural, and organic products - including a range of safe, simple, effective, organic toothpaste - see: www.saferalternative.com. The site includes a lot of interesting information as well as an online store where you can browse around and see details about ALL ingredients used in every product!
Addendum: Although the toxic toothpaste ingedients used in the brands above are bad enough -- watch out in particular for any toothpaste and mouthwash brands that contain the nasty 'anti-bacterial' ingredient Triclosan -- a highly dangerous chemical that has NO PLACE in your bathroom, or your home! - Read more about the dangers of Triclosan.
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