You've seen our list of ingredients that you won't find in our products but you may not know why these particular ingredients made the list so we wanted to clarify.
Contrary to popular belief, the presence of a product on a pharmacy or high-end department store's shelf does not equate with harmlessness. Furthermore, the price tag attached to it doesn't guarantee its quality or safety either. In fact, there is a laundry list of harmful ingredients in the beauty and personal hygiene products we use everyday. Therefore, thoroughly reviewing each ingredient before using a product is essential. Familiarize yourself with them and their potential negative effects on your health especially in the beginning. The more knowledge you acquire the easier it will become.
This is the first step towards a clean beauty routine. To get you started, here are the toxic and potentially harmful ingredients you should avoid, along with the health risks associated with them:
- Parabens preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. They can mimic the hormone estrogen disrupting the endocrine system, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancers. Parabens can cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis and Rosacea in individuals with paraben allergies. Studies indicate that methylparaben applied on the skin reacts with UVB leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage. These chemicals are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to fertility problems.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate (SLS and SLES)
- A foaming agent used to break down water in grease. It’s so powerful that it’s also used in concrete floor cleaners, engine degreasers, and car wash detergents. A well-known skin irritant, it is rapidly absorbed and retained in the eyes, brain, heart and liver, which may result in harmful long-term effects. It can slow healing, cause cataracts in adults, and prevent children’s eyes from developing properly, corrode hair follicles and impair ability to grow hair. These surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with formaldehyde releasing 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation.
- Synthetic fragrances/parfum
- The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know what the chemicals are because formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets. On the label it will simply read “fragrance.” Some problems caused by these chemicals include including hormone disruption, headaches, dizziness, rash, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation—the list goes on. Don’t buy a cosmetic that has the word “fragrance” on the ingredients label. Look for labels that say, “phthalate–free”.
- A solvent used to control viscosity, or a “fragrance” additive. It irritates skin and may cause cancer and reproductive toxicity.
- Chemical UV blockers
- Chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate and avobenzone are linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies, and possible hormone disruption. They are also associated with significant environmental harm.
- Coal tar
- Coal tar ingredients are known carcinogens. It is used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent.
- These ingredients (including DEA/TEA/MEA/ETA) may be contaminated with chemicals like Nitrosamines, which are linked to cancer.
- You won’t find this listed as “formaldehyde” except perhaps in a few remaining brands of nail polish.
- It hides behind ingredient names such as: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), glyoxal and oxaldehyde.
- Recognized by the EPA as a carcinogen, it’s linked to lung cancers, Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia, and myeloid leukemia. It permeates through inhalation and can also cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; reproductive and developmental toxicity; asthma; neurologic and behavioral toxicity; and immunological toxicity. It’s banned for use in cosmetics in Sweden and Japan.
- A skin lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is a linked to cancer, organ toxicity and skin irritation in high concentrations or frequent long-term use.
- Mercury and mercury compounds
- Metallic element used as a preservative and antiseptic known to damage brain function.
- Methylisothiazolinone and methychloroisothiazolinone
- A chemical preservatives that are among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact skin allergies.
- Mineral oil/Petrolatum/Paraffin
- A petrochemical pollutant derived from crude oil, found in an overwhelming number of products. It seals off the skin creating a barrier which feels slick, but ultimately causes slowing down skin’s function and normal cell development, resulting in premature aging and many other health and skin disorders such as contact dermatitis.
- A class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. They have been linked to damage of the kidneys, lungs, and liver, as well.
- Propylene glycol
- Propylene Glycol will cause serious health conditions, including liver and heart damage and damage to the central nervous system if sufficient is absorbed by the body. Used in anti-freeze solutions, in brake and hydraulic fluids, as a de-icer, and as a solvent. There is no difference between the propylene glycol used in industry and that used in personal care products. It has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema.
- A colorant and fragrance ingredient that is a skin irritant, toxic to the immune system and organs, and suspected to cause hormone disruption.
- A volatile petrochemical solvent that is toxic to the immune system and may cause birth defects.
- Studies have shown that triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and enables bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. The CDC states that it is found in 75% of the population’s urine. The American Medical Association and Canadian Medical Association advises against the use of antibacterial soap at home to prevent the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibacterial soap has been found no more effective than regular soap. Antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment; may also impact human reproductive systems.
- Quaternium and Polyquaternium
- These preservatives work by releasing formaldehyde and are known to cause skin irritation.
- Its particles may be contaminated with asbestos and data suggests that it can cause tumors in the lungs as probable respiratory toxin in large amounts. Additionally, talc contaminated with asbestos can be a skin irritant.
Kim G Harley, Kimberly P Berger, Katherine Kogut, Kimberly Parra, Robert H Lustig, Louise C Greenspan, Antonia M Calafat, Xiaoyun Ye, Brenda Eskenazi, Association of phthalates, parabens and phenols found in personal care products with pubertal timing in girls and boys, Human Reproduction, Volume 34, Issue 1, January 2019, Pages 109–117, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dey337
A.M. Aker, D.J. Watkins, L.E. Johns, K.K. Ferguson, O.P. Soldin, L.V. Anzalota Del Toro, et al. Phenols and parabens in relation to reproductive and thyroid hormones in pregnant women. Environ. Res., 151 (2016), pp. 30-37 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935116302845