Just like we pay close attention to what we put in our bodies, we should exhibit that same amount of attention and detail to what we put ON our bodies. Many of us use skin care products in an effort to reduce signs of aging and add much needed moisture without having a clue that there are so many harmful chemicals in today’s skincare products. These chemicals can bring about and contribute to major diseases such as cancer (breast & skin) because they are either carcinogens or because they alter the body’s hormones. Some of the harmful ingredients are petroleum derived, contain trace amounts of heavy metals and coal tar!
Our skin is the largest organ and absorbs up to 60% of what we put on it.
Large and well known brands such as Lush Cosmetics and Origins have earned their reputation as an “all-natural cosmetic beauty brand”, however much research has shown that a percentage of their products aren’t actually all natural. Some of their bath and body products such as soaps and bath bombs contain a toxic lathering or foaming agent known as SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) that is a known skin irritant and studies have shown that it is linked to cancer. Over 80% of their products contain questionable preservatives to extend shelf life. In fact, about 25%-30% of their ingredients can be successfully deemed as organic.
Other skincare and makeup brands such as Revlon, Mac, Nars, L'Oreal and Avon also contain these ingredients. The usage of bad skin care products overtime has its effects such as:
- Reduction in the skin’s protective barrier- toxic ingredients present in the product can cause your skin’s healing and protective lipids to wear away overtime. They also accelerate your aging rate resulting in more wrinkles and drier skin.
- Disruption of your natural pH- Your skin’s normal and healthy pH ranges about 4.5 to 5.3 which makes it slightly acidic. Using toxic skincare products will leave your skin at a pH of 6 to 7 which is more alkaline and will result in your skin overworking itself to get back to normal. During this process, excess oil is being produced which can lead to redness, acne and rosacea.
- Slow skin repair- As a result of a weak pH level, your skin’s ability to heal becomes slower and broken.
- Cause cancers, especially breast cancer- Doctors and Scientists at the BCPP (Breast Cancer Prevention Partners) have been able to successfully link breast cancer to a number of harmful chemicals found in most skin and hair care products. These chemicals disrupt the normal function of the body’s own natural hormones, which are the body’s innate messengers that regulate everything- including breast development. Hormone disruption is directly linked to breast cancer since the different stages of breast development are governed by hormones. The frequent exposure to the chemicals that disrupt the normal process can change normal breast development and can lead to risks of breast cancer later on in life.
Now that you are aware of the detrimental implications associated with using toxic skincare products, here are a list of chemicals that you should avoid:
Parabens: Parabens are one of the most popular preservatives used in skin and hair care products as it prevents the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in products. As good as this may sound, they actually do more harm than good. Parabens contain estrogen-mimicking properties that can cause breast cancer as they have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They can also be found in food and pharmaceutical products.
Fragrance: This term was actually created to protect a company’s “secret formula”; so you can be putting on a blend of tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your health. The Environmental Working Group Skin Deep (ewg.org) database says that fragrance medleys have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory problems and potential reproductive system trouble. They can be found in perfumes, conditioners, shampoos and body moisturizers.
Synthetic Colors/dyes: Have you ever seen FD&C or D&C on your product labels? They are actually artificial colors- F (food) D&C (drugs and cosmetics) and they typically precede a color and number, e.g D&C Red 27. These synthetic colors are derivatives of petroleum or coal tar sources. They are a human carcinogen which is a skin irritant and is linked to ADHD in children
Triclosan: This is a popularly used antimicrobial chemical that is a known endocrine disruptor and skin irritant. Studies have shown that triclosan adds to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant. Also, there is no study that proves antibacterial soaps containing triclosan are more beneficial than soaps without it. Triclosan can be found in toothpastes, deodorants and anti-bacterial soaps.
Phthalates: This is a group of chemicals that are used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics- Diethyl phthalate is common in perfumes and lotions. They are said to be endocrine disruptors (xenoestrogens) and are linked to increased risks of breast cancer, early breast development in girls and birth defects in males and females, and reproductive issues. It’s unfortunate that it is not disclosed on every product as it is bucketed with “fragrances” a.k.a the “secret formula”. They are found in deodorants, hair sprays and moisturizers.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): This can be found in a large amount of personal care and cleaning products- more so foaming products- and are known skin, lung and eye irritants. SLS has the potential to combine with other harmful chemicals which can lead to a number of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. These are typically found in shampoos, body wash and cleansers, mascara and acne treatment products.
Toluene: You might see this petrochemical on labels listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane or methylbenzene. It is actually a solution that is able to dissolve paint thinner and can cause respiratory issues, nausea and irritate your skin. Expecting mothers should avoid exposure to this chemical as it may cause birth defects in unborn children. It can be found in nail polish and hair color/ bleaching products.
Sunscreen Chemicals: These are chemicals that operate as a sunscreen agent to absorb ultraviolet light. They are endocrine disruptors and have been believed to be easily absorbed into the body and may also cause cell damage and cancer in the body. The most common names are benzophenone, PABA and ethoxycinnmate.
Formaldehyde: These are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. It has been considered a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) and is linked to cancers such as nasal and nasopharyngeal. This chemical can be harmful to the immune system and can cause allergic skin reactions. It can be found in nail polish, shampoos and eye shadows.
The fact is that it can be challenging to avoid each and every single synthetic chemical, but you can do your best by limiting the amount of toxins you put on your body. Educate yourself and conduct as much research as possible before purchasing any products. Our all natural skin and beard care products are a great way to start.
www.ewg.com (the environmental working group) is a good resource to look up toxicity levels of ingredients.