Here is the next chapter in my “educational” healthy beauty series. Last time we were examining the meanings of the well used label phrases such as “organic” “non-toxic” or “cruelty free”. This time we are gonna dig a bit deeper and expand our knowledge of the most hazardous ingredients, that you should never have in your products. So learning hat on and memorise these, so you can avoid using a potentially “toxic” product!
As you might heard before, your skin is your biggest organ, so that’s really a big thing what you put on it. Through your skin membranes you absorb more than 60% of the products that you apply and you do it pretty fast, so ingredients can reach to your circulation in minutes. In case of children things are even more serious, so it’s especially important to look after their little – still developing – bodies.
Some ingredients can cause skin allergies, disrupt hormonal functions (such as reproduction), affect development (both mental and physical), in serious cases they can even lead to cancer (carcinogens). So what can we do to keep our beauty routine as healthy as possible? Last time I explained the importance of looking at the labels, and look for organic and natural products, today we will examine the labels further and take a serious look at the INCI or the ingredients list.
There are several ingredients (above a 1300 in Europe, 11 in the USA) that are already banned to use in cosmetics. Since there is a big difference in the laws and regulations between the two continents it’s important to keep an eye on the ingredient list, especially if you live in the USA or you order a lot of cosmetics/makeup from there. Some ingredients are already forbidden in Europe, Australia and Canada but the regulations are still allowing their use in the US, some of the elements from this list are still widely used in Europe as well. So let’s see what you should watch out!
1, Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives
Such as DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, Quaternium-15, and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate. These preservatives are used in cosmetics to expand their shelf lives but in the same time they’re proven carcinogens 🙁 Formaldehyde is still often found in commercial nail polishes so watch out because if you inhale it, it can cause serious respiratory problems too.
A synthetic ingredient widely used in anti-bacterial products such as deodorants, hand sanitizers, anti-bacterial soaps and even in most toothpastes. It can cause skin and eye irritation and on the long run it can mess up your hormone system too.
3, BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) & BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluen)
Common in moisturizers, listed as carcinogen and been linked to liver, kidney and thyroid problems.
4, Coal Tar Dyes (P-phenylenediamine or CI numbers)
Synthetic colours derived from coal tar are almost all carcinogens (proven by animal test results). They contain heavy metal particles that are depositing toxins in the skin. They are common in hair dyes and pigmented makeup products like lipsticks and been linked not only to cancer but to serious brain damage as well.
5, DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)
These are used to create more foam in products like face cleansers, shampoos or shower gels. They can cause not only skin/eye irritation but also one of the most common causes of the appearance of contact dermatitis.
These nasties are usually hiding from the ingredients list, however their health effect are quite serious. They can cause hormonal disruptions (such as early breast development in little girls AND boys) and can damage kidney and liver functions.
It’s hard to face with the truth in this case, but these smell-enhancing substances can be found in almost every type of cosmetic products -not only perfumes- and can cause pretty serious issues in some cases. Many unlisted ingredients in fragrances have been linked to health problems like asthma, allergies, and sometimes even cancer.
8, Parabens (Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben and Isobutylparaben)
I wrote a whole post about parabens as they are the most controversial parts of the “toxic – non-toxic” debate. You can read the article here.
9, PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)
PEGs are in everything, from skincare products, baby products to sunscreens. They are used as thickeners ad moisture carriers. PEGs can cause serious skin irritation and often contaminated with carcinogenic substances like 1,4-dioxane.
10, SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) & SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
Widely known irritants, yet you can still find them in most of your favourite commercial personal care brand’s products (soaps, shampoos, shower gels even laundry detergents). They’re used to boost a product’s cleaning power and to create the very foaming look that most customers equate with effectiveness. (the more foam = the better cleansing power??? seriously?) SLS and SLES are both hazardous to aquatic life, both skin irritants, and SLES often gets contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4 dioxane.
Maybe the most shocking element of this list. Lead is toxic, that is not a question, there is no safe level of lead exposure. It’s linked to miscarriage, birth issues, hormonal problems, brain disorders, and more, but still it’s a very common ingredient of -well known- lipsticks. It can be also found in hair dyes and kohls/kajals.
Phenoxyethanol is a glycol ether that is used as a preservative as an alternative to parabens (see above). It’s a proven irritant and studies are showing it can effect the nervous system and in higher doses it can cause reproductivity problems.
In general we can say two things: Rule No.1: the shorter the ingredients list means a more natural product and Rule No.2: you should avoid ingredients that are too difficult to even read out.
Stay tuned because next month I’ll continue the Healthy Beauty Series, and I’ll show you how to start the big beauty clean up, with the most important place your shower!
Featured image via: deathtostockphoto.com