The Dirty Secret in Your Cosmetics

Do you know what is in your cosmetics? When you look at the ingredient label of a product are you aware of what each ingredient is? In my last post I talked about simple steps to skin health. Today I want to help you improve what you put on your skin. What you put ON you skin is as important as how you care for your skin, these two go hand in hand. The ingredients in many of today’s conventional cosmetics contain harmful chemicals and byproducts that are not regulated by the FDS. The FDA website directly states, “The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market.”

The FDA has only banned 30 ingredients that are harmful in cosmetics in the United States. In comparison the European Union has banned over 1300 harmful ingredients. With so many potential hazards that can be found in cosmetics, how can we prioritize which ingredients to avoid? When researching hazardous ingredients I found that the EWG has shopping tips for safer products. I have complied a condensed list on ingredients that are my top choices to avoid below:

BHA -Butylated hydroxianisole can cause skin depigmentation and is a presumed carcinogen. Found in personal care products as well as food products and packaging.

Formaldehyde – a preservative that is a known carcinogen, asthmagen, neurotoxicant and developmental toxicant. Most commonly found in nail polish.

Fragrance– Federal law does not require companies to list ingredients. Can contain hormone disruptors and is one of the top 5 allergens in the world. Found in basically anything with a scent or even products listed unscented.

Oxybenzone– Linked to allergens, sensitization and irritation. Studies show it may disrupt the hormone system. Most Commonly found in sunscreens.

Parabens –Estrogen mimicking preservatives that may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders. Found in most products containing water, this is widely used in the cosmetic industry.

PEG– The problem with polyethylene glycol compounds is that they are most often contaminated with chemicals that are known carcinogens and may interfere with human development. Peg components themselves run the risk of skin irritation and toxicity. Found in condition agents and cleaning products like acne products and shaving creme.

Petroleum distillates –May cause contact dermatitis and “often contaminated with cancer causing impurities.” Most commonly found in mascara.

Retinal palimate/Retinyl acetate/retinol – May increase the chance of skin leisons when in the presence of sunlight. Cosmetic forms may also cause toxic levels of Vitamin A. Most commonly found in sunscreen and skin care products.

SLS/SLES– Sodium laurel sulfate and Sodium laureate sulfate are foaming agents that are most often containminated with known carcinogens and a known skin irritants. Found in a broad spectrum of products from shampoo to toothpaste.

Triclosan/Triclocarban- Antimicrobial pesticides that are toxic to aquatic environments. Most commonly found in soap and toothpaste.

The trend for cleaner/safer ingredients is finally starting to show in the market. But until more reforms are made, it is important to be informed as a consumer. Having a list of top ingredients you won’t buy if contained in a product is a great start. Hopefully if we as consumers are putting our dollars elsewhere the big product retailers will start to notice! If having a list or reading labels seems overwhelming as you begin, check out my post on the EWG, to download their app for easy purchasing power. Knowledge is Power, so let’s put the power of our health back in our own hands!



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