The majority of toxic ingredients used in beauty care industry are not required to be reviewed or approved by the government, since the cosmetic and personal care industry is highly unregulated. A lot of toxic ingredients are widely used, and unless they are proven to cause harm, they are classified as GRAS, or “generally recognised as safe.” You would like to believe that there is a higher entity, like the US. FDA looking out for the best interest of consumers, but no! A simple approval process exists, which differs from one country to the other, but is only in place for color additives and ingredients classified as “over-the-counter drugs”. This list doesn’t include the top chemical ingredients that are endocrine disturbing, carcinogenic, irritating and allergen.
Products labels can also be misleading, many lead with false claims and contain a lot of marketing lears. The word “natural” for example can be used on product labels, even if no natural ingredients are contained in the product, the word “organic” can also be equally misleading. Read more about this here. The best thing we consumers can do is to educate ourselves and learn how to read cosmetic labels. Another great resource to help understand product labels further is the Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, by Ruth Winter. This is a must have book!
I believe that switching to an organic or natural beauty routine should be motivated by a love of natural ingredients and a trust in their efficacy, not a fear of chemicals. However, according to a survey conducted on 1230 people by Formula Botanica, a UK based organic cosmetic science school, found that synthetic ingredients is the prime reason for avoiding toxins in their beauty products. So, what are those main toxic ingredients you should avoid?
I know, I know! We all want to smell sexy, fresh, and captivating but to what expense? Your health? It is incredibly difficult to identify the specific ingredients in perfume which cause harmful effects to your health, as the proprietary formula is protected and can legally remain undisclosed. Synthetic perfume could also have been added to mask the bad odour of other chemicals, any combination of 3000 chemical ingredients! According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database, fragrance mixes have been associated with headaches, allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and in severe cases have potential effects on the reproductive and nervous system. Fragrance can be found in perfume, shampoo, body wash and body lotions.
Also known as petroleum jelly (think vaseline) and mineral oil. This is a lighweighted and cheap ingredient. Commonly found in hair products for shine, lipsticks and baby products creates a film that suffocates the skin making it unable to release toxins. Petroleum derivatives can generate 1,4-dioxane known to cause cancer and neuro and respiratory problems.
How to spot it?
Words with DEA (diethanolamine) or MEA (ethanolamine), word with ‘butyl’, ‘ethyl’ , “propyl” ‘methyl’ –methyl alcohol, methylparaben, methylcellulose.
They are 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, this toxic ingredient is not disclosed on every product as it’s added to fragrances. They can be found in deodorants, perfumes/colognes and hair sprays.
How to spot it it?
Look for acronyms DBP, DEHP, DMP, DEP mainly in nail polish, lotions, deodorant and hair sprays but often hidden under fragrance and perfum. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and may cause infertility, birth defects and respiratory toxicity,
Look for these acronyms on labels: DBP, DEHP, DMP, DEP. It’s also commonly hidden under “fragrance” or “parfum” – remember, those are code words for “chemical cocktail”.
Widely used in personal care products to prevent the growth of mold, fungus and bacteria from growing in your favourite pot of beauty cream. Sounds like a skin savior right? But Paraben have been associated with breast cancer tumors. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products they are endocrine distrubring and can cause reproductive toxicity.
How to spot it?
Look for: Methyl, Butyl, and other words finishing with “yl”. Also look for ingredients such as methylparaben, propylparaben, or any word ending with “paraben”.
Sulfates are found in many personal care products such as shampoo, toothpaste, shaving foam, body washes, and facial cleansers. To put it simply, any beauty product that is highly foaming will probably contain Sulfates. Sulfates are also used to clean garage floors at car washes. AND are still the most common toxic ingredients in beauty products. The fact that SLS and SLES are highly foaming gives a false sense of clean. In reality, they strip the skin from its natural moisture and protective barriers, which causes allergic reactions, redness, dryness and itching. SLS can become a carcinogen is combined with other chemicals like nitrosamines which can kidney and respiratory damage.
How to spot it?
Look for: SLS, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and SLES, Sodium Laureth Sulfate
This is the least dangerous chemical of this list. It is considered “low hazard” but can be harmful to the environment and bio diversity. Silicone is cheap, easily spreadable, and water resistant which makes it popular by manufacturers to use in hair and skin products. Silicone interferes with the skin’s natural cell renewal, which can cause acne and congestion on the skin by clogging the pores.
They can also be found is serums, creams, and hair oils. Silicone acts like a band aid for your hair shaft, it doesn’t repair the strands but merely masks the problem. It gives a false illusion of shine, this shine is similar to what you get from plastic, not from healthy hair. Silicone build up on can cause hair loss and damage. To wash it off you will need a sulfate shampoo which is equally as bad.
How to spot it?
Look for products that have “cone” as an extension, xane like Siloxane or “ol” like in dimethiconol
80 Clean & 20 Dirty Toxic Ingredients
This list of toxic ingredients to avoid in beauty products is a meant to raise awareness not to create fear. The more informed you are, the more aware you will be when making future purchases, and armed with this information you have the ability to choose what is good for you and your health. A lot of chemical ingredients have some sort of controversy around them so I urge you to make your own educated decisions.
Start with small steps and keep them simple. I personally believe in an 80/20 approach just like anything else in life. Read your labels, test and try what works for your skin, and start to substitute the products you use the most frequently in favor of more natural and organic alternatives. More importantly, don’t stress yourself out if you don’t find that perfect natural eye shadow and organic nail polish yet. Focus on integrating more plant based ingredients rather than avoiding their synthetic counterpart. It makes personal care much more enjoyable and nurturing.I believe that if you are motivated by the love of organic natural plants and you want a beauty routine which promotes self-care, then replacing toxins laden products will come from a place of pleasure rather than fear.
With the pressure of consumers demanding clean products, more companies are manufacturing genuigly natural products that are free of these top toxic chemicals. Our star products the Pure & Organic Argan Oil is certified organic and toxins free. The next products we are launching will conform to the same safe standards. More than just esthetic results, we care about your health too.
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