nontoxic skincare, safer skincare

Avoid These Harmful Skincare Ingredients

By now you probably know that I have been focusing more on safe skincare. I am on a journey to heal my own acne-prone skin, and I want to share what I am learning with you. But don’t worry, you can still count on me to share healthy recipes on my blog.

Did you know that the beauty industry is virtually unregulated? There are enough loopholes in the U.S. federal law to allow the cosmetics industry to put unlimited amounts of chemicals into personal care products with no required testing, no monitoring of health effects, and inadequate labeling requirements. In fact, cosmetics are among the least-regulated products on the market. The U.S. has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938.

Toxic Ingredients 101

While there are many harmful ingredients that should be avoided in skincare products, these are the 7 types of ingredients that are the worst offenders and tend to be the most prevalent. If you are using products containing these ingredients, consider discontinuing use and find a safer alternative

1. Parabens: A preservative typically used to extend the shelf life of products by preventing the growth of bacteria and mold. They’re believed to have properties that mimic our own estrogen and can confuse the body by adhering to our estrogen receptors. They have been linked to breast cancer, hormone disruption, allergic reactions, and infertility. 

2. Petrochemicals: Petrochemicals are a carcinogen produced as a byproduct of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil and are toxic to the nervous system. Petrochemicals suffocate and age the skin and disrupt the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins. Other names for petrochemicals include: paraffin, mineral oil, polyethylene glycol (PEG), butylene glycol, ethanol, ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, propyl alcohol.

3. Artificial/SyntheticColors: Artificial colors are carcinogenic and are found in: toothpaste, mouthwash, lipstick, lotion, shampoo, hair dyes, lip balms/pencils/glosses, foundation, etc. 

4. Artificial/SyntheticFragrance: An ambiguous term under which many toxic chemicals are hidden. Unfortunately, the term “fragrance” can mean any number of 3,000+ different ingredients, which have varying degrees of toxicity. Among this list are hundreds of chemicals that are neurotoxins and hormone disruptors. Artificial fragrances are also considered to be among the top five known allergens and are known to both cause and trigger asthma attacks. And they are linked to immune system damage, allergies, brain damage, hormone disruption, and cancer. 

5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate: These ingredients are detergents and surfactants that help make products foam and bubble (face wash, shampoo, body wash). They irritate skin and eyes and damage the skin’s immune system. They also contribute to yeast infections and hair thinning.

6. Triclosan: A synthetic antibacterial ingredient registered by the EPA as a pesticide. Triclosan is used in most antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, and antiperspirants. It is kills both good and bad bacteria, causes cancer in humans and creates “super-bugs” that it cannot kill. Triclosan is also a suspected endocrine disruptor that is known to accumulate in body fat and cause decreased fertility, liver damage, and nervous system complications.

7. Phthalates: Phthalates are used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. They disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects and neurological damage. Be aware that phthalates are not always labeled – this is because they’re likely considered by the producing company as an ingredient in their signature fragrance, whose lists are protected as “trade secret.”

I recommend using the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to look up the products you use to determine their toxicity rating.  Their Healthy Living app is a great resource that I use whenever I purchase skincare products. You can scan the barcode, review its rating, and pick the better choice.

I hope this information is helpful for you. If you have any questions about safe skincare or want to learn more about the products I recommend, leave a comment below.

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