You're in Danger of Dirty Grooming

Congratulations if you’re a man that takes pride in self-grooming. You’re the kind of man who thinks uni-brow is a swear word, and that untamed chest hair only belongs in the 70’s, beside your old pet rock, and 8-tracks. For those of you just starting off on the long adventure that is manscaping, we salute your courage for coming to terms with the fact that, yes, back hair is the exact opposite of sexy. Good on you for making the change.

Since you’re taking care of yourself, and maintaining your dashing good looks, we know that the average Joe doesn’t really know what’s in the everyday products that he’s slapping on his face and body. Who really has the time (or the proper grasp of Latin, really), to read all the ingredients in every bottle of anything? Unless your background is in chemistry, or you’re the obsessive health freak who’s done all their research (we really like you btw), we thought we’d take this opportunity to tell you more about what’s really lurking in your grooming-product bottles, and let you know about the bad stuff that inspired us to do what we do today- make healthier grooming products for you (or your man).

Not too long ago, Environmental Defence Canada, an organization dedicated to inspiring change in government and business practices, put out a report ‘The Manscape -The Dirt on Toxic Ingredients in Men’s Body Care Products’ (1), where they used a certified laboratory to test 17 common men’s grooming products that included aftershave, shampoo, body wash, shaving cream and deodorant. Not surprisingly, they found probable amount of human carcinogens, chemicals that harm male productive health, and other chemicals that are known to disrupt hormones (endocrine disruptors). Nasty as sh*t stuff.

Let’s dig deeper on ‘Endocrine Disruptors’ shall we?

Some of these nasty chemicals can damage your sperm (yes, your precious swimmers) and also cause hypospadias, which is a deformity of the penis in which the urethra is not placed or positioned properly (I know you just cringed). It gets even scarier with the links to testicular cancers, and prostate cancer, the number 2 (pardon the pun) form of male cancer in North America. Other correlations have been found with respiratory problems such as Asthma, obesity or weight gain and insulin resistance.

‘Nah, I’m good, I feel fine and am a healthy man’

You might feel that way today, and not see any adverse effects right now, but new studies show that small doses and applications everyday are not captured by research that labels don’t claim, so there is good reasons why you should be worried. Think of it like this: A lover you have scorned puts a little bit of poison in your food every day. Not enough to show up in a test, but enough to cause some serious sh!t someday. Classic long- game revenge. A bit extreme, but you get the idea.

Here’s the top 10 list of toxic chemicals, from the Environmental Defence Canada report (1) that you need to be aware of in your everyday grooming products:

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) are used as preservatives and stabilizers in cosmetics. Two studies have linked BHT with adverse effects on the thyroid (43) and possible thyroid carcinogenesis.44 BHA and BHT both have the potential to induce allergic reactions in the skin. (45)

Coal Tar-Derived Colours
The coal tar-derived colourant para phenylenediamine is a common ingredient in hair dye. It is a sensitizer, meaning it has the potential to trigger allergic reactions, and has been linked to bladder cancer in hair stylists and regular users of hair dye. (46)

Formaldehyde Releasers
Quaternium-15 is a preservative which releases formaldehyde into cosmetics to act as a preservative. It is often found in shampoo. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, and has been linked to leukemia specifically.

Artificial Musks Hidden in Fragrance
While artificial musks do not appear on cosmetic labels, they are often found in the ingredients of “fragrance” or “parfum”. The inclusion of fragrance on ingredient lists usually suggests a variety of hidden chemicals which do not have to be disclosed because they are considered trade secrets. Also hidden within these trade secrets are often high levels of phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine disrupting and have been linked to breast cancer and birth defects. Fragrance is also linked to allergies, immune system toxicity, headaches and dizziness.

Parabens are used as a preservative in many products, including moisturizers, soaps and shampoos. They mimic the hormone estrogen, and have been found in breast cancer tumors. (47)

Petrolatum/Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly is often found in hair products, lip balm, and products marketed for sensitive skin and babies. It is a by-product of the fuel-refining process, and the risk is that it is frequently contaminated with polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are cancer-causing chemicals. (48)

Siloxanes are silicone based chemicals, including cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, and cyclohexasiloxane. Siloxanes are an environmental pollutant, and have been shown to disrupt hormonesin animal studies. They are also skin irritants. (49)

Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS/SLES)
These petroleum derived ingredients are added to shampoo and soap to make the products foam, but they are abrasive irritants with hormone-disrupting effects.50 Petroleum by-products such as SLS/SLES and petroleum jelly are often contaminated with PAHs, which are carcinogenic.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that appear in products as preservatives; in this case, they will be listed on the label of cosmetics. But additional phthalates may be hidden in the fragrance of a product. DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) was listed as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2011.51 DEP has been linked to reproductive health problems in men. These phthalates and others have been linked to asthma and obesity as well.

Triclosan is a pervasive anti-bacterial chemical that was declared toxic to the environment in a draft assessment by Environment Canada. Studies have also linked triclosan to human health problems. It mimics thyroid hormones, and its breakdown products include the carcinogens chloroform and dioxins. It is found in soaps and some hand sanitizers. Studies have shown that it is no more effective at killing germs on hands than washing with regular soap and water. (52)

It’s insane that these toxins are still in products of retail shelves right? There is progress and movement in the industry to regulate more disclosure of harmful chemicals on product labels, but until then, you can make better choices for yourself. That’s what inspired us to start this business in the first place at Uncle Peter’s MAN. We wanted to offer a healthier, feel-good-choice and alternative. Keeping things simple is what we believe. It’s easy to think about health as diet and exercise, which is important, but there’s more to it than that. If you want to lead a long, and healthy, life, it’s time you look at what you put on your body as much as what you put in it. Keep reading the ingredients on your labels MAN and yeah learn some Latin too.

Keep it real,

Uncle Peter


2 Top 10 Toxic Ingredients Pocket Guide

42, Retrieved October 19, 2012
43  Sondergaard, D. & Olsen, P. (1982) The effect of butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) on the rat thyroid, Toxicology Letters,10, 239-244
44 Ito N, Fukushima S, Tsuda H. Carcinogenicity and modification of the carcinogenic response by BHA, BHT, and other antioxidants. Critical Reviews in Toxicolology. 1985;15(2):109-50.
45 US National Library of Medicine, in Haz-Map: Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Agents, 2010,
46 Gago-Dominguez, M., Castelao, J. E., Yuan, J.-M., Yu, M. C. and Ross, R. K. (2001), Use of permanent hair dyes and bladder-cancer risk. International Journal of Cancer, 91: 575–579
47 Darbre, P. D., Aljarrah, A., Miller, W. R., Coldham, N. G., Sauer, M. J. and Pope, G. S. (2004), Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 24: 5–13
48 Goodpaster JV, Howerton SB, McGuffin VL. Forensic analysis of commercial petroleum products using selective fluorescence quenching. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2001;46(6):1358–1371.
49, Retrieved October 12, 2012
50, Retrieved October 19, 2012
51 Grosse Y, et. al. on behalf of the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group. Carcinogenicity of chemicals in industrial and consumer products, food contaminants and flavourings, and water
chlorination byproducts. The Lancet Oncology. 1 April 2011 ( Vol. 12, Issue 4, Pages 328-329 )
52 ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (2012). The Trouble with Triclosan: How a Pervasive Antibacterial Chemical is Polluting Our World and Our Bodies. Toronto.

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