Health and Wellness

The dirty dozen: 12 toxic ingredients to avoid in your beauty products.

Have you really taken a good look at the ingredients of the skin and hair care brands you use? I mean a REALLY good look? No? Well, you need to and I’m going to tell you more about some of those ingredients.

I have fairly normal skin with very little blemishes except for my ‘scars of war’ my lovely term for stretchmarks:) As a mother of two girls with sensitive, very dry skin who have had problems with eczema and are allergic to almost every product under the sun (eye roll), I had to find something that works.

Many people decide to go all-natural and use black soap or bentonite clay, coconut oil, or whipped shea butter for their skin and hair. For some, they would rather buy what they see in cosmetic shops. I try to strike a good balance of both because you can actually find some good products on the supermarket shelves.

It’s very easy to find me in the supermarket reading labels because I already know what’s healthy and what’s not. So I have decided to compile a list of some of the most important toxic ingredients in your make-up, lotions, cleansers, deodorant, shampoos, and basically anything you apply on your skin and hair. These ingredients I will share with you get immediately into your bloodstream so it’s easy for them to cause a myriad of health issues.

  • Parabens

Parabens are preservatives found in everything from soap to lotion to makeup. If it has water in it, it probably has a paraben to keep it from growing bacteria. Examples include methylparaben, proplyparaben, isopropyl paraben, and isobutylparaben. If “paraben” is in the word, avoid it. Parabens are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they mimic estrogen in the body and can lead to hormonal imbalances.

  • Fragrance/ Parfum

Almost every single conventional skincare and cosmetic product (even some “unscented” ones) contains artificial fragrances. Manufacturers aren’t required to reveal what’s actually in their fragrances, so you’ll simply see Fragrance or Parfum on the ingredients list when it could actually be a cocktail of carcinogens, allergens, endocrine disruptors, and irritants.

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

They are commonly used in skincare products such as body wash, cleansers, toothpaste, shampoos, and hand washes. It’s the ingredient that gives these products the foamy, bubbly consistency most of us associate with a squeaky clean. These ingredients can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies such as psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.

  • Toluene

Toluene is a chemical commonly found in nail polish and hair dyes. It is a volatile petrochemical solvent that can be toxic to the immune system and can cause birth defects. If you’re pregnant, be especially careful and avoid nail polish containing toluene entirely.

  • Petrolatum/Mineral oil

Petrolatum is odorless and colorless, and it has an inherently long shelf life. It is also used in many products specifically for dry skin. These qualities make petrolatum a popular ingredient in skin care products and cosmetics, think lip balms, moisturizers, and eye creams.

When properly refined, petrolatum has no known health concerns. However, with an incomplete refining history, petrolatum could potentially be contaminated. So unless you are sure how your product is made, especially with many cheap imitations, then its best to avoid this ingredient because extensive use is toxic to the brain, kidneys and may cause cancer.

  • Oxybenzone (and other chemical sunscreens)

Sunscreens come in two different forms: chemical and mineral filters. The most common sunscreens on the market use chemical filters such as oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a known endocrine disruptor and can alter thyroid function. It’s also linked to skin allergies. Chemical sunscreens should be avoided at all costs—especially with children! It’s important to also avoid the other popular “O”s, including octinoxate and octocrylene, which are now both considered to be harmful to human health and the environment. Oxybenzone can also be found in sunscreen, SPF lotions, lip balm, and makeup.

  • Diethanolamine

Diethanolamine is a foaming agent. It’s a known carcinogen and respiratory toxin, which is why the EU has restricted its use in personal care products. Despite this, it’s still used in bubble bath, body wash, and shampoo in the US. It’s often abbreviated as DEA on cosmetic labels.

  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is used is many types of cosmetics as a thickener, especially in lotions, shampoo, and sunscreen. PEG is often contaminated with both ethylene oxide (a known carcinogen) and 1,4-Dioxane (which causes respiratory problems and is banned in some countries.

  • Triclosan

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that can be found in antibacterial soaps, body washes, hand sanitizers, toothpaste and mouthwash. The issue with triclosan, is that it kills all bacteria—good and bad. For an alternative to triclosan, I suggest alcohol-based sanitizers or old-fashioned castile soap and water.

  • Heavy Metals

It’s so shocking that these things are in our everyday products. They include Aluminium, Mercury, Nickel, Arsenic, and Lead. They are used in various cosmetic products – lipstick, mascara, foundation, concealers, eye shadow, eyeliner, deodorant etc They build up in body overtime and produces symptoms that are mistaken for other illnesses (ie: headaches, dizziness, numbness, chronic pain etc)

  • Talc

While talcum powder (often used as a smoothing agent in mineral makeup) is generally safe, it also has the potential to be contaminated with asbestos, which is a known carcinogen and instigator of lung disease.

  • Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is an aromatic compound in skincare products that acts as a skin lightening agent. It bleaches the skin and can be helpful in the treatment of different forms of hyper-pigmentation. Over time, however, the chemical destroys the skin through its forced and harsh alteration. This leads to skin problems, more blemishes, and even pre-aging.

Are you feeling sacred now? Well, I was but you don’t have to. There are plenty of alternatives on the market with acceptable ingredients. My goal in sharing this information is to empower you to make better decisions for yourself and your family. Hopefully, one day there will be better regulation in the cosmetics industry and all personal care products will be safer.

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