Avoid These Ingredients In Your Beauty Products
You try to eat well, exercise, drink lots of water and get a good night’s sleep. But could your beauty and skin care routine be full of harmful chemicals that are sabotaging your health? It’s easy to turn to the ingredients list on your shampoo bottle and feel totally lost in their long scientific names. With just a few tips, you’ll be decoding them in no time! You’ll also have a better understanding of what to watch out for the next time you’re scanning the makeup aisle.
Are skin care and cosmetic ingredients regulated?
Unfortunately, there is very little regulation of the beauty industry in North America. Words like green, dermatologist-tested and eco-friendly get tossed around and used by brands that are far from healthy or safe. Anyone can slap the label “natural” on a package and cross their fingers that customers won’t read the true ingredient list, which may be brimming with toxic stabilizers, sulfates and dyes.
While the European Union has banned or restricted over 1,700 ingredients, Canada has prohibited a total of 573 and the U.S, only 11. This is partly because Canada uses a risk-based evaluation method, meaning that an ingredient is banned in beauty products only when there is enough proof to show that it is detrimental to humans’ health. On the other hand, the European Union uses a prevention-based system, which means if an ingredient could potentially cause harm, it will most likely be restricted or banned.
What should you avoid?
It’s important to remember that everyone will have different limits as to what they will accept as a natural ingredient or product, so you’ll need set your own personal restrictions on what you’ll allow vs. what you will not tolerate. To help you set these boundaries, here are the top chemicals to watch out for in your makeup and skin care products:
Parabens are a chemical preservative found commonly in shampoos, moisturizers, toothpaste, soaps, shaving cream and a whole lot more. They have been found to mimic estrogen and are linked to several health problems, including neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive disorders, skin irritation, and cancer.
Phthalates (Fragrance) are concealed within perfumes and most conventionally perfumed products such as lotions, shampoo and deodorants. In humans, phthalates are associated with bioaccumulation, which means that they become stuck in the body forever. They are linked to hormone disruption and organ damage.
Phthalates may be listed under any of the following names: fragrance, perfume or parfum. Because companies are not required to list what ingredients make up a fragrance, it could potentially be hiding dozens of unlisted chemicals.
Formaldehyde is a known hazardous chemical found in nail polish, hair dye and eyelash glue. It is an immune system toxicant and a skin irritant. It isn’t often listed under this name, so watch out for: diazolidinyl urea, oxymethylene, methanol and DMDM hydantoin.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS/SLES) is the chemical responsible for the lather and foam we’re all so used to with our toothpastes and shampoos. It began as a garage floor cleaner and is now found all over your drugstore. Easily absorbed by the body and is a known skin irritant, it also strips skin of its natural oils, creating dry, dull skin.
Mineral oil is a petroleum-based ingredient found in a range of moisturizers such as lip gloss, foundation, and even baby oil. It acts like plastic wrap for your skin by creating a seal-like barrier that blocks skin from effectively eliminating toxins.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a saturation enhancer used to preserve moisture found in cream-based products. It may have a harmful effect on cell growth and can cause permanent damage to the surface of the skin.
Talc is still found in some baby powders, as well as in eyeshadows, blushes and setting powders for its moisture-wicking properties. It has similarities to asbestos – it’s linked to cancer and is a possible respiratory toxin.
Although it can be found in many products, the main one to keep a close eye on is good old soap. Triclosan is used for its antibacterial properties and is a suspected hormone disruptor, even at low doses.
When in doubt, look it up!
One of my best tips is to search for any of the ingredients you don’t know through a reliable source, such as the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
And try not to feel overwhelmed! There’s no need to throw out every product you own. Instead, when you next run out of something, try doing some research into its ingredients. If it has some of these nasty chemicals, look for a safer option.
Are there any other ingredients you’re unsure about? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!
Eve is a photographer and writer from Toronto, Canada with a passion for natural beauty and healthy eating. She loves green products, yoga, big salads and even bigger cups of tea.