8 Risky Ingredients to Avoid In Your Skincare and Beauty Routines
A couple of years ago I started to take better care of my body because I was tired of not feeling good in it.
I became a lot more conscious of the foods I was eating because I started to understand that what I put in my body would have a significant effect on both my physical and emotional health.
After I learned this lesson, I realized it didn’t stop with food. If I really wanted to give my body the most optimal shot at being healthy, I had to examine what was in my beauty cabinet. I learned that some of the products I was using had controversial chemicals that were not good for my health and well being.
Dropping my bad habits was no easy feat, however! I had tons of toxic products I was using for my skin care routine, and I didn’t want to part with them.
Nonetheless, as I began to educate myself on what these products were made of and the effects of the chemicals on my body, I felt I had no choice but to make changes in my daily beauty routine.
As I did so, I started to feel better in my body and more empowered to make healthier choices.
Because you’re here and reading this, you may have the same desire as well. You might want to change your beauty routine, but you’re not sure where to start.
That’s why I came up with a quick and easy checklist to guide you through the chemicals and toxins you may not be aware of. Some of these ingredients are most likely in your current skin care routine.
When I was researching toxins in beauty products, parabens came up at the top of my search. Parabens are used to preserve the life of our skin care products. This substance is in face washes, night creams, body washes and shampoos. Parabens come from a whole family of ingredients, such as propylparabens, butylparabens, and ethylparabens.
The trouble with parabens is the way they mimic estrogen in the body. This effect risks throwing off our hormone balance. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics cited that parabens have been linked to diseases such as breast cancer, infertility, hormonal imbalance in females and early puberty.
I had not heard of this ingredient before, yet it comes in many of our skin care products. Phthalates are a group of chemicals that help beauty products, such as perfumes and makeup, stick to our skin. In the past few years researchers have linked phthalates to asthma, endocrine disruption, birth defects, kidney damage and male infertility.
The trouble with phthalates is they are not always listed on the product’s labels. This omission can make the buying process tricky for consumers because they may believe the product is phthalate-free when it’s not. When shopping, it’s always best to check in with the beauty consultant or on the internet to be sure your product is truly phthalate-free.
Where you want to steer clear of phthalates: Check in color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes, hair care products and nail polishes.
When I first heard that “fragrance” could be unhealthy, I couldn’t believe it because I noticed that fragrance was in 90% of the products in my beauty cabinet!
Fragrance is what’s called a trade secret, meaning brands don’t need to disclose the ingredient’s chemical composition on the label. That lack of information could become quite dangerous because fragrance could contain other hidden sources of chemicals.
Brands also refer to fragrance as “parfum.” So be sure to to look out for both terms on your product’s labels.
Where you want to steer clear of fragrance: Check your sunscreen, shampoo, soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup, facial cream, skin toner, serums, exfoliating scrubs and perfumes.
4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate [SLS]
Sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS is a chemical used to extend the shelf life of skin care and beauty products. Research shows sodium lauryl sulfate is an irritant to the skin, eyes and lungs and toxic to organs (non-reproductive).
Where you want to steer clear of sodium lauryl sulfate: Check your shampoo, liquid soap (bubble bath) and hair relaxers
5. BHA and BHT
If you’ve done some research before, you may have also come across BHA and BHT. They are preservatives that help skin care products to extend their shelf life. Mostly they are found in products such as lip glosses and moisturizers.
BHA and BHT are also carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Exposure to high amounts of these toxins can lead to organ level toxicity and reproductive toxicity.
Where you want to steer clear of BHA and BHT: Check your lip products, hair products, makeup, sunscreen, antiperspirant/deodorant, fragrance, and creams.
Most professionals in the beauty industry promote retinol for your skin routine. This endorsement happens because retinol has been labeled as an anti-aging cream that helps to minimize wrinkles and fine lines from your skin.
However, what they don’t talk about is that retinol may increase your risk of developing skin cancer. In a study from the National Toxicology Program, they found that mice exposed to creams, including retinol, developed tumors faster than those that were not.
Where you want to steer clear of retinol: Check out your anti-aging creams, lotions, moisturizers and foundations.
Next time you shop for lip glosses, be on the lookout for lead. In 2007 the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 lip glosses and found 61% of them contained lead. When researching lead, it also troubled me to learn that lead is extracted from paint and gas to make our lipsticks more colorful. Ouch! That’s something I don’t want to be putting on my lips.
A high use of lead can potentially contribute to low birth weights, miscarriages, depression and aggressive behavior.
Where you want to steer clear of lead: Check your lipsticks and lipglosses.
It was a shocker to learn that this chemical used in our high school biology class is something we have to keep an eye out for in our skin care products. According to the Food and Drug Administration [FDA], one in five beauty products contains formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is an effective preservative, which is why it’s used in beauty care products.
It’s also a carcinogen when fumes are inhaled. Scientists have demonstrated it to be an irritant and allergen, and linked to asthma, neurotoxicity and developmental toxicity.
You’ll want to be super careful of this ingredient because the products won’t always label it. Instead, check the label for DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol), 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane and Hydroxymethylglycinate.
Where you want to steer clear of formaldehyde: Check out your nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash and color cosmetics.
There you have it. Those are just a small list of some of the controversial chemicals you’ll want to look out for in your skin care routine. Next time you go shopping, take this list with you, and examine the labels so you can make informed choices about what you put on your skin.
Want to save yourself some time? Check out the Public Goods store where all the products are toxin-free.
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Why does Public Goods use Propylene Glycol in its products? I know its a humectabt but its also used in antifreeze!
I used to think PB products were really conscious of the products but now that I see it in the products I order from them, I no longer re-order because of this.
Thank you for the feedback! I’ll let our product team know that some of our members have concerns about propylene glycol.
Propylene glycol is also in my list of no-go’s and I won’t be re-ordering the deodorant because of it.
Thank you for caring about our concerns.