Who knew that your bathroom could be such a dangerous place? If there’s any means of adulting that you should begin to master, it would be closely reading the labels on the products you buy. It sounds annoying and very boring, but it’s important. After all, if food is made with sketchy ingredients, then you’ll probably be grossed out or scared by what you’ll find lurking in your bathroom cabinet. Looks and smells can be deceiving from your facial moisturizers to your old deodorant stick. These are some things that you should watch out for as you rummage through your bathroom cabinet and dispose of immediately.
You might not realize this, but a lot of your facial moisturizers, sunscreens, and many other products that touch your face have an expiration date that might not be printed on the bottle. Though it’s not required to put an expiration date on the packaging because of the lack of regulations, some manufacturers do print expiration dates on their products. If it’s not the date that’s printed, they may have what’s called a Period After Opening Date (PAO). In the U.S., manufactures are not required to put expiration dates on products, only products that the FDA consider as drugs are required to have an expiration date, like acne medicines, sunscreen, and products that treat dandruff.
That said, as you rummage through your medicine cabinet, know that your moisturizers, face creams, and eye creams are good for 6 months to a year. The danger of keeping these around are not so much their effectiveness, rather possible irritation or bacterial infection. Also, products that are in a pump are less likely to introduce bacteria to your skin, while creams in jars (that you can be putting dirty fingers into) should be thrown out after 6 t0 9 months.
Since most sunscreens come with an expiration date because they’re more tightly regulated — as a general rule — toss sunscreen that is more than three years old and/or has been exposed to high temperatures or changed in consistency or color. According to the Mayo Clinic, sunscreens are designed to remain at their advertised strength for up to three years. Afterwards, they are no longer as effective. If the sunscreen you have has expired, toss it. When you spring for your next bottle, if it happens to not have an expiration date, write the date of purchase on it so you’re able to keep track. Also, if you’re using the proper amount of sunscreen (applying frequently and generously), you shouldn’t have a bottle that lasts for more than a year.
Products with toxic substances
Many of your everyday bathroom products and toiletries could be hiding some ingredients that are toxic. Here’s a breakdown of one of the more dangerous ingredients to look out for, and if you find it’s on the labels of your favorite products, toss them immediately.
This ingredient may be found in some deodorants, antibacterial soaps, and even toothpaste. Once used as a surgical scrub, triclosan now functions as a kind of all-purpose antibacterial in everything from toothpaste to hand soap. Experts worry that the substance is contributing to bacterial resistance and the rise of superbugs. Plus, the FDA found that antibacterial products aren’t any more effective than regular soap — not to mention that this ingredient disrupts the endocrine system and may contribute to allergies in children.
Products with cancer-causing agents
In addition to toxic substances, there may also be some products lurking in your bathroom that contain cancer-causing agents. You should dispose of these immediately and check the labels of your favorite products as well.
BHA and BHT, respectively stand for butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene. These substances may be found in some moisturizers. The substances are especially bad for you because they’re used to extend the shelf life of your products, and contain human carcinogens, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They’re also used as preservatives in snack foods and cereal, so keep your eyes peeled for them in that context as well.
Yet another ingredient that you may find in some of your shampoos, moisturizers, and sunscreens. In some products, diethanolamine is used to give that smooth, silky feeling. This is because in some products DEA is added to make the mixture creamier, sudsier, and less acidic. Unfortunately, lab experiments on rodents show that the substance has some very disturbing side effects on the skin, and even lead to liver cancer in mice.
The scariest sounding name of all the substances, because you’re probably familiar with its association and what it’s used for. This one is a pretty bad, and it’s sometimes found in shampoos, body wash, and hair gels. A few other names to look out for on the label are, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15, and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. Here’s the lowdown on formaldehyde and why it’s so horrible for you: It’s used to embalm dead people (!!) and it’s also found in various grooming products to help kill bacteria. Besides being a flammable gas this one is also known to be a human carcinogen and is banned from cosmetics in countries like Sweden and Japan. We’re still scratching our heads as to why it’s not banned in the U.S.