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Six Toxic Ingredients You Need to Avoid

Written by Nadia McCracken on May 28th, 2015.      0 comments

Six Skincare Ingredients You Should Avoid SpaBeauty Artilces
You may be surprised to know that the cosmetic industry is highly unregulated - they pretty much have cart blanche to use any ingredient or raw material without government review or approval. A minuscule pre-product approval process exists, before cosmetics and skincare products hit the shelves. Right now FDA regulation is only required for colour additives and ingredients classified as "over-the-counter drugs".

Many of these synthetic chemicals we use on a daily basis are skin irritants, endocrine disruptors and are carcinogenic ingredients. I can't go through all of these harmful chemicals today, but here are six ingredients commonly found in skincare & cosmetics you should try and avoid at all cost:
  • Parabens 
Also know as methyl-, propyl-, and parahydroxybenzoate.
The Parabens are the most commonly used ingredient in cosmetics. Water is the only ingredient more used than parabens. They prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Sounds good, right? Not so fast, they do more than that. Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They can be found in makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers. You can also find them in food and pharmaceutical products.
  • Colouring
Many skincare companies add colouring to their products to hide oxidation (discolouration that occurs when some ingredients come into contact with oxygen). Colouring in skincare offers absolutely no benefit to skin. In fact, the European Classification and Labeling considers colours in cosmetics & skincare a human carcinogen and the European Union has banned it.

If you take a look at your product label and you'll notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colours. When the letters FD & C precede a colour it means the colour can be used in a food, drug or cosmetic. When D & C precedes the colour, it signifies that it can only be used in drugs or cosmetics. These letters precede a colour and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C Blue 1). These synthetic colours are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colours are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. 
  • Fragrance
This particular category is pretty scary, because what does "fragrance" really mean anyway? This term was created to protect a company's "secret formula." But as the consumer you could be putting on a concoction that contains tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your skin's health. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database, fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential harmful side-effects on the reproductive system.
It is found in almost all over the counter, supermarket and department store cosmetics & skincare products today.
  • Phthalates
A large group of chemical compounds used in the production hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and skin & body lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. These are all known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, it is not disclosed on every product as it's added to fragrances (remember the "secret formula" not listed), a major loophole in the law.
They can be found in deodorants, perfumes, hair sprays and skin moisturizers.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
This wetting ingredient and detergent (surfactant) can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products (think all foaming products). SLS's are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. These combinations can lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. They can be found in shampoos, skin and body wash/cleansers, mascara and acne treatments.
  • Propylene glycol
Also known as 2-Propanediol. This is one of the most widely used cosmetic ingredients. It is a clear, colourless, viscous liquid. Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent. It is the most common moisture-carrying vehicle other than water itself in cosmetics. It has better permeation through the skin than glycerin and is less expensive. It's classified as a skin irritant and skin penetrator, and has been linked to more skin sensitivity reactions than most other ingredients commonly used today. It has been associated with causing dermatitis as well as hives - these sensitization effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2 percent. It is used in moisturizers, sunscreen, all liquid makeup products, foundations, lipsticks to name only a few. In 1992 the FDA proposed a total ban on propylene glycol. This ban has yet not been passed, so you will see propylene glycol in almost all over the counter cosmetics today.

It's impossible to avoid every single synthetic chemical and harmful ingredient, but you can make a start by limiting the amount of toxins your body is exposed to. Be sure to: eat clean, avoid chemical-laden processed foods, drink plenty of filtered water and look for products that contain ingredients that will feed your skin rather than irritate & disrupt it. 

Educate yourself and do your research before you buy. Think of something you absolutely love, and the time and energy you apply to it. Do the same, when it comes to your skin. You have one life and one body. If you don't take care of yourself, you may pay for it later in sickness.

For the best skincare advice, always see your professional beauty & skincare therapist.

Resource: Tith Edition: A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetics Ingredients, Ruth Winter, MS.
Topics: Body Care, Skin Care




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