Unhealthy Ingredients That Could Be Lurking in Your Beauty Care Products

With a society that is seemingly obsessed with reversing the signs of aging, the beauty industry is booming. And while many of us buy products hoping they will be effective, we often take it for granted that these they may also contain ingredients that are harmful to our health. Although the hope is that these products go through a stringent testing process as well as FDA approval, you might be shocked by how little is actually done to regulate what goes into them. Often these include synthetic chemicals that are skin irritants, skin penetrators, endocrine disrupters and are carcinogenic. Luckily, your first line of defense is to familiarize yourself with these dangerous ingredients so you can identify them and avoid buying products that contain them. Here are just some examples of products to avoid. 

Photo via Mother Magazine

Photo via Mother Magazine

Parabens: These are preservatives that are used to prevent the growth of bacteria mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Although you might think this is a good thing to have in your beauty products…think again! In addition to preserving the product, they also contain estrogen mimicking properties that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. They have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.

Synthetic Colors: On an ingredients label, these may appear as FD&C or D&C and may be followed by a color or number. They are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources and are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and cause ADHD in children. They are banned in the European Union. 

Fragrance: This is a vague term to begin with and is often used to protect a company’s ‘secret formula’ which may include ingredients that can cause allergies, dermatitis, respiratory issues and damage to the reproductive system.

Phthalates: These are a group of chemicals that are used to increase the flexibility of plastics. They include dibutyl phthalates, diethyl phthalates and dimethyl phthalate. These are known to be endocrine disruptors and can increase the risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls and birth defects. 

Triclosan: This is an antimicrobial chemical that’s known to be an endocrine disruptor and a skin irritant. Furthermore, there is no evidence supporting the fact that washing with antibacterial soaps that contain triclosan provide any benefit over washing with non-antibacterial soaps. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): These are found in a good percentage of foaming personal care and cleaning products. They are known to cause irritation to the skin, lungs and eyes. They also have the potential to form a carcinogen called nitrosamines when combined with other chemicals which can cause kidney and respiratory damage.

Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde (also present as FRP’s or formaldehyde releasing preservatives) are used to prevent bacteria in many cosmetic products. They have been identified as a carcinogen and have been linked to nasal and nasopharyngeal cancer. They can also cause allergies and be harmful to the immune system.

Toulene: This may be listed on ingredients label as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane and methylbenzene. Derived from petroleum or coal tar sources, these can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin as well as causing fetal damage in pregnant women. It can also cause toxicity in the immune system. Fun fact…it is also used as a paint thinner.

Propylene Glycol: This is an organic alcohol used as a skin conditioning agent. It’s classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. It can cause dermatitis and hives in humans. 

Sunscreen Chemicals: There are chemicals in sunscreen that work to absorb ultraviolet light. However, they are also endocrine disruptors that can be easily absorbed in the body and cause cellular damage and cancer. They can be identified as benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. 

Despite the unfortunate fact that beauty products can be so packed with unhealthy chemicals, it is good to know that there are some products that are made with organic, chemical free ingredients, many of them sourced right here in the Michigan area. These include Rustic Maka: Pachy Deodorant, Eve Organics Beauty, and The Little Flower Soap Co.