You can probably name several things that get under your skin, but do you know what you’re putting on your skin?
At this point you know that Gorilla Glue isn’t safe, but what about that moisturizer that makes your melanin glow? Although words like “natural” and “sensitive” are printed on the front of the container, some of the ingredients printed on the back do quite the opposite.
Here are 5 common ingredients to avoid in skincare.
1. Parabens Are Not Your Friend.
You’ve probably seen the description “paraben free” on the labels of products in the beauty aisle. Why is paraben-free something for companies to brag about? Well, parabens are a group of chemicals that are used in cosmetic products and skin care products.
Parabens are used in products to prevent the other ingredients from breaking down and growing harmful mold and bacteria. Sounds like a thoughtful thing for companies to add, right?
Well, that’s not the case. When parabens enter the body, they can cause disruption of the hormonal system. Parabens can behave like estrogen in both men and women. This can interfere with how the body produces hormones and lead to reproductive and fertility issues.
Finding Parabens in Your Products
As mentioned previously, parabens are a group of chemicals. Scoping out the parabens in your products is not difficult because most parabens have “paraben” in the name. Here are the names of some parabens that may be lurking in your products: Menthylparaben, butylparaben, polyparaben, putylparaben, and phenoxythylparaben.
2. Petroleum May Not Be As Safe As It Sounds.
Petroleum jelly is a household go-to for soothing cracked lips, moisturizing ashy knees and elbows, and everything in between. Petroleum can be found in several lotions and cosmetics.
If you use petroleum that has gone through the proper process of refinement, it considered safe. However, petroleum that is used in the U.S. is often not fully refined and contain toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists 14 PAHs as likely to cause cancer and one PAH as a known cause of cancer. In the US, there are no requirements on the refinement of petroleum and the PAH content in the products you use.
How can you tell if the petroleum in your lotion is safe? If the label states that the petroleum was fully refined, then it is considered safe to use. Fully refined petroleum is known as white petroleum.
Finding Petroleum In Your Products
Petroleum can find it’s way in several of your skin care products. Here are some the names that you should look for: Mineral oil, paraffin oil, petrolatum, and white petrolatum (fully refined and safe to use).
3. What’s Hyde-ing in Formaldehyde?
The word “formaldehyde” is usually associated with a mortician needs in his tool bag. So, what is it doing in your skin care products? Just like parabens, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing products (FRPs) are used as preservatives.
Formaldehyde prevents microbes from growing in water-based products like shampoo and liquid soaps for your face, hands, and body.
Not only is formaldehyde used in skin care products, it is used in several products that come in contact with your skin like nail glue, nail polish, eye lash glue, and hair gel. Yikes!
Formaldehyde can be absorbed through your skin and cause irritation, an allergic reaction, and high levels of exposure have been linked to cancer.
Finding Formaldehyde in Your Products
It’s easy to spot the word “formaldehyde”, but it may not be as easy to spot these formaldehyde releasing products: hydroxymethylglycinate, bronopol, quaternium 15, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.
4. SLS May Not Be Best.
If your favorite cleanser creates a foamy lather, there’s a good chance that SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) may be present. SLS is a cleansing agent that is commonly used in shampoo, facial and body washes, soaps, and toothpaste.
Research shows that SLS is not a cancer- causing agent, but it can cause irritation and drying of the hair and skin. For this reason, many natural hair care product companies boast about not using SLS.
Finding SLS in Your Products
Several skin care product companies have removed SLS from their list of ingredients, but they didn’t tell you they listed it under an alias. Here are some of the aliases of SLS that may be in your skin care products: Sodium monolauryl, sulfate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, hydrogen sulfate, and sulfate lauryl alcohol.
5. Phthalates Are Not So Great.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in aftershave, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. Phthalates are known as plasticizers because they prevent products like nail polish from cracking while providing flexibility.
You may find this as a shocker, but those same phthalates are used in vinyl flooring, food packaging, and wall coverings. Some research shows that phthalates can cause issues with the endocrine system and may lead to cancer.
Finding Phthalates in Your Products
Finding phthalates in your products may be difficult to spot, but here are the names you may see on product labels: Phthalate, dimethylphthalate (DMP), diethylphthalate (DEP), dibutylphthalate (DBP), and fragrance.
Now that you have this information, it’s time to call it quits with some of the products that you have come to love. No matter how sweet the fragrance, these are some ingredients to avoid in skincare.
My advice is to get to know your products before you bring them home. Reading product labels can save you the from being exposed to toxic chemicals that can cause long-lasting effects on your health.