It is the time to be more aware then ever of the ingredients in products that we are using in our cosmetics. Chemicals surround our daily lives. There are so many new products being developed and so many ingredients being used in those products. You have heard it before and you will hear it again from me “If you wouldn’t put those ingredients in your body then don’t put them on your body.” Lets begin the journey together and cover a few of the many ingredients in cosmetics to avoid. Educating yourself benefits you, your family, your friends, and the planet we love.
Importance of Reading Labels
Only a very small percentage of ingredients used in cosmetics have been tested for safety by a liable agency. Meaning they have been tested by a private agency hired by the manufacturer. This is why we say the Beauty Industry is self-regulated in the United States. Of course most manufacturers will do their own testing, as it would be bad for a business to put a product on the market that caused severe reactions. However, many of these ingredients that can cause reactions are deemed safe at certain percentages, which you can read about, in our previous blog. Not to mention who is testing how all the ingredients in all the products you use on a daily basis interact with each other and what effects can they cause long term?
The European Union has been banning ingredients for years and has banned over 1,300+ ingredients that are still widely used in most of the products you find at your local drug store today here in the United States. American companies even reformulate their products so they can comply with the European Union and sell their products in that market. Honestly the worse part about it all is that we buy these products to improve ourselves from makeup to deodorants and in truth they could be harmful for our bodies.
My Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid in Products
When shopping for a new cosmetics these are a few of the many ingredients I scan for and avoid (in no particular order).
- Fragrance – Any fragrance can contain hundreds of different chemicals. Most fragrances are also considered proprietary so knowing exactly what is in the word “fragrance” is known exclusively to the manufacturer. This means that the one word fragrance can contain several hundreds of chemicals that do not need to be listed on labels. Fragrance can be found in just about any type of cosmetic. Issues are not completely known as fragrance is proprietary but many suffer from reactions to fragrances.
- Hydroquinone – A skin lightener used in some prescription lotions as well as over the counter products. Used commonly to lighten age spots and has been found in sunscreen and nail products. Banned in cosmetics in the European Union and restricted use in Canada. Possible issues are sensitivity to the sun and increase chances of burning which can also increase your risk for skin cancer.
- Nanoparticles – Are used in cosmetics because they easily penetrate the skin due to their small size. They are commonly used in sunscreens and there is lots of uncertainty on the risk of skin penetration however, known issues are inhalation. Titanium Dioxide for instance is found commonly in sunscreens and is a known carcinogen when inhaled in high doses. “The lungs have difficulty clearing small particles, and the particles may pass from the lungs into the bloodstream.” [i] Avoid powders with nanoparticles and sprays especially ones with Titanium Dioxide or other harmful ingredients.
- Parabens – Preservatives used in just about every type of cosmetic. If you read our previous blog you know this is a cheaply produced and effective ingredient. One study shows that parabens can age the skin exposed to UV light. Other studies have shown that parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and have also been found in breast tumor tissue. Known risks are endocrine disruptor, skin cancer, and developmental and reproductive toxicity.[ii]
- Petroleum Distillates – A solvent not to be confused with petrolatum which is found in Vaseline and is also an ingredient to avoid however Petroleum Distillates are at a higher risk of reactions. The European Union has banned certain petroleum distillates in cosmetics as a concern for possibly human carcinogen.[iii]
- Phthalates – Used in plastics to pesticides, and yep your cosmetics. Phthalates are linked to hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. Again another ingredient banned in the European Union.[iv]
- Sodium Lareth Sulfate & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – Used commonly in shampoos and other foaming products. Known issues are skin penetration, endocrine disruptors, and an irritant to the scalp, eyes, and skin.
- Talc – A mineral commonly used in baby powder and cosmetics. Studies have linked talc exposure to ovarian cancer. Inhalation studies in some animals have shown it to be a possible lung irritant and carcinogen.[v]
- Toluene – Used in paint thinners to nail polish and even added to gasoline. Toluene is found naturally in crude oil and the tolu tree. Known risk factors are developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, and irritation. Toluene is also believed to increase the risk of miscarriage.[vi]
- Triclosan – Synthetic antibacterial and antifungal ingredient. Used in toothpaste to lipsticks and everything in between. Regular exposure could cause resistant strains of bacteria to form. Triclosan stays in our body, the water, breast milk, and plasma. Known risk is the impact on thyroid function.[vii]
If we all stop buying these cosmetics with harmful ingredients manufactures will be forced to listen. Learning as much as you can about cosmetics ingredients is just as important as what the cosmetic can do for you. Ask your self what can these chemicals really do for me? Once you begin limiting your exposure to all of these chemicals it will actually leave you looking better and feeling better. Nourish your skin just like you would nourish your body with healthy good for you ingredients!