CLEAN BEAUTY: 7 INGREDIENTS YOU NEED TO CUT OUT NOW
These days it seems like the list of chemicals found in personal care products is growing so rapidly that it is impossible to keep up! Chemicals and unhealthy contaminants can be found in water, food and everyday products you use. Specifically, beauty products.
Clean beauty is important to you. We get it! Unfortunately, however, personal care products and cosmetics are less governed than any other product on the market. So it’s up to consumers to do the research. We are here to help! Here are a few nasty ingredients that you might want to consider cutting out… like now.
“U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors.” –David Suzuki Foundation
Just because your beauty products are sold in stores doesn’t mean they are safe. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was passed in 1938, which was a two-page document giving FDA authority to regulate cosmetic ingredients. After restricting a measly 30 ingredients over 80 years, FDA’s considerably flexible guidelines have left consumers at the mercy of personal care companies in a self-regulated industry.
A lot has changed 1938. “These days cosmetics are a $60 billion-a-year business, and the average woman uses 12 products with 168 different ingredients every day.” (1)
Take care of your Skin
“Skin is a complex organ; an average square inch of skin contains 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, and more than 1,000 nerve endings. Despite being just a few millimeters thick, skin makes up around one-seventh of our body weight.” (2)
Skin diseases affect millions of people and one of the most common reported health problems worldwide.
Skin is our largest organ and plays many important roles. It makes sense why skin needs natural ingredients to thrive.
- Protects you from external elements and pathogens
- Regulates body temperature
- Stores nutrients, water and lipids while acting as a barrier
- Skin nerves help us detect injury, pressure and other sensory stimuli
- Changes in skin is a way of communicating that something could be wrong with physiological health
Interested in learning bout the power of natural sensory skincare? Learn more here.
Clean Beauty: 7 Ingredients to Avoid
It is important to show caution when using conventional skincare products, such as cosmetics, sunscreens, hair products, deodorants, soaps and lotions.
Reading the long list of ingredients on your beauty product label can be daunting. We want to empower you with knowledge so you can make informed choices about the products you use. It’s your body, your health and your life.
According to researchers, there isn’t a clear-cut answer about how toxic these ingredients are and to what extent. So, it’s left up to consumers to make decisions. Although not exhaustive, here is a small list of ingredients few you might want to consider avoiding or researching further.
Phthalates, pronounced ‘thah-lates’ and nicknamed the “Everywhere Chemical” (3), are a large group of man-made chemicals found in a multitude of personal care products, household products, upholstery, toys, cleaners, textiles, wiring, outdoor products, clothing, plastics solvents and food. They are odourless, colourless and used for their stability, fragrance preservation and ability to bind ingredients together.
Perfumes. Hairspray. Shampoos. Moisturizers. Nail Polish. Where else can you find them? In your body. Absorbed. Research continues to document the widespread exposure of this group of chemicals across populations. Phthalates have been linked to cancer, liver damage, reproductive issues, beahvioural issues, obesity and asthma. They are classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) because they interfere with hormone production in the body.
“Phthalates are rarely listed as ingredients on cosmetic labels because the FDA does not require the listing of the individual components of fragrances.” (4)
How to Stay Away
Product labels rarely list phthalates. Now what?
- Stay away from fragrance, perfumes – as it almost always means phthalates.
- Eat organic, especially when it comes to dairy and meat.
- Recycling codes 3, 6 and 7 often contain phthalates or BPA.
- Drink filtered water: water contains phthalates so investing in a good water filter
Found in deodorants and antiperspirants, Aluminum salts serve as ‘plugs’ for your sweat ducts, stopping some of the sweat from being released from your pores. The aluminum salts will accumulate in the skin which are absorbed and delivered throughout the body.
Aluminum can also be found in sunscreens. There has been a five-decade debate about if constant exposure to aluminum compounds contributes to Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. During research, scientists at Keele University in the UK revealed that aluminum was found in all seven of the sunscreen products tested, showing a possibility that using a sunscreen with aluminium increases the risk of oxidative damage in skin and cancer. (5)
Did you know?
“The World Health Organization recommends a single application of at least 35mL of a sunscreen/sunblock to achieve the stated sun protection factor. The scientists reported that for three of the sunscreens investigated, a single application of product would result in 200 mg of aluminum being applied to the skin surface and a full day at the beach could result in up to 1g of aluminum being applied to the skin surface.” (6)
How to Stay Away
Parabens are artificial preservatives added to beauty products like cosmetics and skincare. They prevent bacteria, mold and fungus growth and prolong the shelf life of products. They are also used as fragrance. Parabens have been widely used in shampoos, shower gels and skincare since the 1920s because they are effective and cheap.
Studies have shown that parabens may mimic estrogen and disrupt both male and female natural hormonal systems and are linked to causing cancer.
Although there have been studies and evidence demonstrating that parabens are harmful to our health, there are also authorities that say there is no clear answer about the validity of this. It may depend on how much is ingested by skin and how much is in the product itself.
“In some studies, high concentrations (up to 100%) of parabens were used. Much lower amounts, usually less than 1%, are used to preserve cosmetics. In other studies, large quantities of parabens were fed to lab animals, not applied topically as they are with skincare and makeup products.” – Paula’s Choice
“An estimated 75 to 90 per cent of cosmetics contain parabens (typically at very low levels).” –David Suzuki Foundation
“The concern with these chemicals is that scientific studies suggest that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer.” – EWG
How to Stay Away
Want to be better safe than sorry?
Six types of parabens commonly used in personal care products — methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutylparabens, Teen Vogue
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS can be found in many everyday health and beauty products, such as shampoos, soaps, face and body wash. It is a surfactant, a foaming and cleaning agent which binds oil and water together.
“These sulfates can cause irritation not only to your skin, but to your lungs, eyes and mouth. Research has shown these chemicals can cause epidermal changes, interfering with the body’s ability to regulate and protect itself from damage and irritation.” (7)
How to Stay Away
Read labels and try to avoid products that list SLS. Look for effective alternatives.
Did you know?
Sodium Coco Sulfate, which is a coconut derivative, is a common alternative. Unfortunately, Sodium Coco Sulfate still contains nearly 50% of SLS. (8)
Formaldehyde in beauty products. Really?
Formaldehyde is a colourless, strong-smelling gas that can be found in hair products, skincare, body care and cosmetics to preserve the product shelf life and protect from bacteria growth. The same formaldehyde that is used in building materials, paints, pesticides and embalming fluid. Uh… yuck! Long term effects of formaldehyde are still being studied but it has been linked to scalp burns, difficulty breathing and skin irritation. High levels of exposures have been linked to cancer. “However, 87% of people agree that preventing the growth of bacteria is a strong argument for using formaldehyde.” (9)
Typically, only low levels of formaldehyde are used in beauty products. In Canada, companies are restricted to using concentrations no greater than 0.2%, and Europe is less than that. (10) However, laboratory studies have shown that formaldehyde from beauty products can be absorbed into the skin. (11)
How to Stay Away
So, you see “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label. But what does that really mean? Fragrance is a catch-all term used to describe a complex formulation of one or more of 50-100 chemicals that give a product its distinct scent. The concoction is usually added to products to either enhance the scent or neutralize nasty odours of other chemical ingredients. However, fragrance can be extremely allergenic and irritating to skin, depending on the chemicals used.
Did you know?
There are over 3000 chemicals that can be used and not one has to be disclosed on the label.
Used in nearly 50% of beauty products, it actually has a LOT of unknown toxic chemicals that can be harmful to you. Without you knowing, fragrance can irritate skin, have toxic hormonal effects, and may even cause cancer. (12)
How to Stay Away
Some companies list “fragrance free” on their products. Don’t be fooled by this claim and read labels!
Avoid products that list fragrance of parfum on labels or look for products that use essential oils.
Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)
PEGs are a mixture of petroleum compounds that act to soften, thicken or enhance the delivery of ingredients deeper into skin. This means that it facilitates all the product’s ingredients, including undisclosed fragrance and toxins, at getting into your skin and your bloodstream. There is great concern over both its impurities and its production process; both have linkage to cancer.
Impurities: ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. “These two are known carcinogens and respiratory irritants. Long-term exposure to ethylene oxide can cause serious health consequences, including damage to the nervous system. In fact, this chemical was used as nerve gas in World War I.” (13)
PEGS are used PEGs are often associated with a number (ie. PEG-8), which describes its molecular weight. The lower the number, the easier it can penetrate the skin.
How to Stay Away
Read labels and avoid ingredients containing “PEG.” Look for PEG free products.
- 80 Years Later, Cosmetics Chemicals Still Unregulated, Environmental Working Group, Faber, Senior VP, Government Affairs
- Skin: How it works, Medical News Today
- Why Go Phthalate Free? Green Active Family
- Are Phthalates Harmful and Should I Use Them? Puracy
- Aluminum Found In Sunscreen: Could It Cause Skin Cancer? Science Daily
- Researchers Question Safety of Aluminum in Sunscreens. Cosmetics and Toiletries, Schaefer
- Human and Environmental Toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Evidence for Safe Use in Household Cleaning Products, Environ Health Insights
- How to Avoid SLS in your Beauty Products (and what to use instead!), School of Natural Skincare
- Formaldehyde Infographic
- The Dirty Dozen: Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, David Suzuki Foundation
- Percutaneous absorption of formaldehyde in rats, National Library of Medicine, Lett
- TOP 8 HARMFUL CHEMICALS TO AVOID IN SKIN CARE, Orgaid
- Toxic Beauty Ingredients You Need to Avoid, Simply Organic Beauty
- Aluminum in cosmetics dangerous to health (Afssaps), COSMETICOBS
- Phthalates exposure and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in school-age children, National Library of Medicine, Kim et all
- Are Parabens a Problem? Paula’s Choice
- Everything you need to know about PEG family, CosmEthics
- Is Fragrance In Skincare As Bad As Paula Begoun Says? Beautiful with Brains
- Burden of Skin Diseases, Medscape, Basra et al.
- Campaign for Safe Cosmetics