When I finally realized just how dangerous the products I was putting on my skin were, I couldn’t ignore that fact. I did a lot of research on just what was in my products, and came up with a list of ingredients to avoid at all costs. But even knowing what I did, it took me over a year to finally replace all of my old products with ones that actually worked well and that I loved. Because unfortunately, there are a lot of crappy “natural” skincare and beauty products out there. Trust me, I wasted my money on a lot of them!
So in order to save you time and money, I have put together a list a list of 8 toxic skincare ingredients that you should watch for, and avoid if you can. I have also listed some of my favourite safe skincare and makeup products so that you don’t have to waste your time and money, like I did, trying out products that just don’t perform. Because at the end of the day, if a product doesn’t work well, I don’t care how “safe” it is, I won’t use it. And neither should you. You should never have to compromise quality for safety. Never. We deserve better than that.
8 Toxic Skincare Ingredients To Avoid
The word fragrance has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? And something that makes a product smell good couldn’t be bad, could it? Unfortunately yes. The term “fragrance” was actually created to protect companies’ “secret formulas” and the word “fragrance” on a label can actually indicated hundreds of toxic chemicals, without any of those specific ingredients having to be disclosed. Over 3000 different ingredients can be used to make a fragrance, and none of those ingredients have to be disclosed to you. Fragrances often contain hormone disruptors and other health harming ingredients. Isn’t that terrifying? As someone who always wants to know what is going in, and on my body this fact scares me. A lot. And it should scare you too. You have just no idea what toxic chemicals you are exposing yourself and your family to when you are using products with fragrances in them. Fragrances are commonly found in products like shampoos and conditioners, body creams and lotions, perfumes body washes. To avoid them watch for the term “fragrance” or “parfum” in the product ingredient list. Not that this also applies to cleaning products as well.
Parabens are preservatives found in many beauty and skincare products to help increase their shelf life and stability. They are commonly found in makeup, foundations, face washes, face moisturizers and lotions.
The parabens used most often in personal care products are methyl, ethyl, butyl and propyl paraben, which are used as preservatives and antibacterial agents in cosmetics. Parabens have weak estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity with they are studied in the lab (in vitro) or in animals. In other words, they can cause hormone imbalances. And since hormones are one of the master regulators of the body, this is a big problem. Hormone imbalances can lead to a number of health problems including thyroid disease, infertility, acne, fatigue, weight gain, etc. And parabens have been linked to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm counts.
Phthalates are a group of plasticizing chemicals that allow make-up to become more pliable, and fragrances to stick to your skin. The three phthalates most commonly used in personal care products are diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is found in scented products, including perfumes, deodorants, hair sprays, lotions, soaps and shampoos, and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), which are used in nail polish and cosmetics. Phthalates are found in most items that contain fragrance and can also be a part of the company’s “secret formulas” so that they don’t have to be disclosed on the label. Studies done in the lab and on animals show that DEP, DnBP and DiBP have estrogen-like properties and anti-androgenic properties (androgens are the male type hormones found in the body). In other words, they disrupt your hormones and have also been linked to birth defects.
It’s well known that lead is toxic, especially to children. Lead harms almost every organ system in the body and has been linked to numerous health problems, including permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriages, premature births, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and nervous system problems. It can also cause hormone disruption leading to menstrual irregularities, delayed puberty and reduced fertility. In other words, you want to be sure you are avoiding this ingredient. The problem? It is hiding in many more places than you would think. Yes it can be in paint, and that’s pretty well known, but what isn’t as well known is where it’s hiding in cosmetics, specifically color cosmetics. For example, did you know that over 95% of lipsticks on the market contain lead? WHAT? I know right? Terrifying. Because when it comes to lead, there is no safe level of exposure. Even a small amount is extremely dangerous. And what little girl hasn’t asked to play with her mom’s lipstick? And when she does you want to be sure that it is safe, lead-free lipstick that she is using.
5. BHA and BHT
These are used mainly in moisturizers, lip glosses or lipsticks, other make-up and diaper creams to act as preservatives and as synthetic antioxidants. These chemicals are known hormone disruptors and also have been linked to cancer. They can cause allergic skin reactions, and animal studies show they can damage the liver, thyroid and can interfere with the ability of blood to clot. These chemicals are also known to be harmful to fish and wildlife. In other words, they are bad for everyone!
6. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) and/or Sodium Laureate Sulfate (SLES)
These are used in foaming cosmetics such as shampoos, face wash, children’s bubble bath as well as laundry detergents. The reason why they are so dangerous is that they may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer and ethylene oxide, which can damage the nervous system. These chemicals can also irritate the skin and eyes, and worsen acne and there is evidence to show that they can interfere with fetal development. Also be aware of ingredients containing the letters “eth” on a label, which is just another term for these substances.
7. Polyethylene Glycols (PEG) compounds
PEG compounds are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics. Like SLS and SLES, PEG compounds can also contain 1,4-dioxane, and ethylene oxide, which can cause cancer and damage the nervous system. PEG compounds are commonly used as thickeners, solvents, softeners and moisture-carriers in cosmetics.
8. Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives
These chemicals hide under the umbrella terms DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15 (yes I know what a mouth full!). These are dangerous because they slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer. These are used in cosmetics, as well as many household products and cleaners because they act as preservatives. These chemicals can also cause allergic reactions and act as skin and eye irritants.
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