In seeking out personal care products that are better for our bodies and the environment, we often look to the claims on the front of product packaging like “all-natural” or “cruelty-free.” And while many products may boast natural ingredients that weren’t tested on animals, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the best for our bodies or the planet. In fact, many can contain harmful ingredients including parabens and phthalates. These controversial chemicals can take on many names, or no names at all in the case of fragrances (more on that in a bit), making it even more difficult to identify them. An overwhelming number of conventional personal care products contain phthalates, which are used to homogenize products by dissolving solid ingredients. Parabens are also widespread in the personal care industry, used as preservatives that prevent bacterial contamination. A good thing in theory, but in practice, parabens have been linked to a number of serious health concerns including cancer. Neither of these classes of chemicals are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mostly because the agency says they pose no health risks.
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