Saturday, February 16, 2019

GREEN LIVING :: Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products

Do you know what's in your beauty products?  I have shown you in previous posts how to figure out if a product is safe.  Today, we are diving a little deeper and looking at the ingredients themselves.  Why should you learn to avoid some?

This is kind of like the dirty dozen of food but with a cosmetics' spin.  These are the ingredients you need to learn to avoid because there is evidence that they are harmful to the body.  Whenever you are unsure about a particular ingredient you can use EWG's skin deep cosmetic database  to learn more about it.  These ingredients are part of Beautycounter's Never List , which means that you will NEVER find them in their products.  This is one of the many reasons why we use their products at home. 

1.  Benzalkonium Chloride:  This is primarily used as a preservative and an antimicrobial agent.  You can find it in personal care products like face lotion and cleanser.  It can be irritating to the skin and the respiratory system. 

2.  BHA and BHT:  These are used as preservatives.  I've seen them in deodorants for instance.  They are suspected to be carcinogens and there is strong evidence that they disrupt our endocrine system (hormones).  Again, there is evidence that they give rise to allergies.

3. Coal Tar:  This is found in shampoos and scalp treatments, soaps, hair dyes and lotions.  It's a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) derived from burning coal.  Be specially vigilant with hair dyes.

4.  Ethanolamines:  These are used in a wide range of products from soaps to shaving cream and make-up products.  Any ingredient with a DEA, TEA or MEA as part of the name is linked to them.  Health concerns here are bioaccumulation (not easily removed from the body), cancer and organ system toxicity.

5.  Formaldehyde:  This can be added directly to cosmetic products or released as an impurity from preservatives.  It is a known carcinogen that was present until not that long ago in all nail polishes.  It is also found in nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair smoothing products, body soap and many others.  It can be included in any of these chemicals:  quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.  Check your labels!

6.  Hydroquinone:  This is found in skin lighteners, cleansers, moisturizers, conditioners and nail coating products.  Health concerns here are cancer, organ system toxicity and irritation of the respiratory tract. 

7.  Oxybenzone:  This can be found in a range of products from nail polish to foundation or sunscreen.  It's used as a fragrance enhancer or to prevent products from losing scent and color in the presence of light.  Concerns here are numerous and include cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity,  organ system toxicity and irritation among others. For sunscreen, I always purchase the natural barrier type with zinc oxide or titanium to avoid oxybenzone.  You do pay a higher price but it's totally worth it. 

8.  Parabens:  Parabens are ubiquitous because they discourage growth of microbes in your cosmetics.  They come in different forms-  there's ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. You can even find them in baby diaper cream.  Learn to avoid them.  Concerns here are cancer (skin), endocrine (hormone) disruption and developmental and reproductive toxicity.  Young children are more vulnerable than adults. 

9.  Phthalates:  These are found in color cosmetics, lotions, body washes and hair care products.  They used to be present in most nail polishes too but have removed by most manufacturers.  Try to purchase at least a 3-free polish.  These compounds are also used in scented products to help the scent linger because we all like to be able to "wear" the scent all day.  Look for phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance on the label.  Concerns here are endocrine (hormone) disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancer. 

12.  Synthetic Flavor and Fragrance:  If you are to avoid something in cosmetics, make it be fragrance.  I know that scent is tied to memories and feelings and we all learn to love certain scents early on.  Those scents though come at a price to our health.  The trouble with fragrances is that manufacturers do not have to disclose all the chemicals that go into the making of a fragrance so, for all you know, you could be exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. 

13.  Toluene:  This is a solvent that used to be very popular in nail polishes and can also be found in hair dyes.  Most nail polish brands now avoid toluene.  To be safe, try to purchase at least a 3-free polish.  Concerns here are higher for pregnant women and include irritation, bioaccumulation and organ system toxicity. 

14.  Triclosan and Triclocarban:  These are antibacterial agents that are also used as preservatives in personal care products.  I guarantee the hand soap in the bathroom at your work place has triclosan.  Most hand soaps still have triclosan in their formula.  Concerns here are allergies, irritation, endocrine disruption and bioaccumulation.

I realize that this list might be overwhelming.  There's no way around it.  My advice is to tackle this in stages.  Once you decide that you want to lower your chemical load, start working on one group of products at a time.  You might want to start with skin care products for example and then move onto make-up and body products.  As you progress, you'll find that you'll remember these chemicals and you'll start to find cleaner alternatives for the products you use now. 

I hope you found this post informative.  Thank you for reading!


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