Toxins in Cosmetics - 5 Ingredients to Avoid


If you love any particular beauty product, read it’s ingredients. This is our first word of advice. Get to know what ingredients are in your everyday skin, hair and nail care products, and whether or not they’re toxic.

Today, we are privy to most of the ingredients used in the products we buy, as they are usually labeled on package, but err on the side of caution when you aren’t sure, as there are ingredients + chemicals which are not listed in products, yet are allowed to be sold that way.

Chemicals, carcinogens and all of the sort are lingering in tons and tons of personal care products. These products are usually used once or twice a day, and most likely take part in a 1-20 step personal care routine (shampoo, conditioner, lotions, makeup, deodorant, chapstick). Go ahead and add up your everyday beauty products. Now multiply that by how many times you apply them a day. Now multiply that by 30 days (one month). That could be anywhere from 30 to 1,000 applications of each routine product you own. 

You may have already figured it out, but we’ll say it out loud, whatever’s in your products will inevitably be spending a lot of time on your skin and in your hair. Now, we aren’t preaching that you must give up your favorite YSL lipstick, but we are saying, maybe give organic beauty a try. Offer your body a little break from the toxicities and park your conventional beauty routine on the time-out bench for a bit. Look for cleaner options with simple ingredients lists. Beauty can be simple.

Here is just a small fraction of what ingredients are still allowed by the U.S. to be used in beauty products today:

 1. Parabens

Used as preservatives to prevent the growth of microbes, Parabens can be found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial cleansers, etc. You might think Parabens are one chemical, but don’t be fooled! Look for any ingredients ending in -parabens, as they are actually many chemicals of very similar nature, used for similar things.

Health Concerns: Cancer, Endocrine Disrupter, Developmental + Reproductive Toxicity.

 2. 1,4 Dioxane

Found in products that suds up, such as Shampoo, Body Wash + Facial Cleansers, 1,4 Dioxane is an organic compound and known carcinogen. In products, this ingredient may come by the name of Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG compounds, and others.

Health Concerns: Cancer

3. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

A colorless, strong smelling gas used in a variety of things, Formaldehyde can be given off by certain preservatives used in personal care products. It is banned in both Japan and Sweden, and has restricted uses in other countries, such as Canada. The most vulnerable to Formaldehyde are infants, as well as hair and nail salon workers.

Health Concerns: Cancer, Skin Irritation

 4. Ethanolamine Compounds: MEA, DEA, TEA, etc.

Found in a wide range of personal care and cosmetic products, Ethanolamine compounds have been linked to liver tumors, yet their use is still allowed in the United States. Hair conditioners, lotions, mascara and eyeshadow are just a few of the products you may find these in.

Health Concerns: Cancer, Organic System Toxicity, Bioaccumulation

 5. Phthalates (Pronounced: Thalates)

Banned by the European Union, these chemicals still linger among many hair products, nail polishes, fragrant lotions, etc. here in the US. Unfortunately phthalates are legally allowed to be added to fragrance without having to be disclosed on packaging. Pay close attention when buying personal care products like these, as they may contain phthalates.

Health Concerns: Cancer, Endocrine Disruption, Reproductive + Developmental Toxicity.

While the above, and many other chemicals still reside in our cosmetics today, the truth is that these ingredients can actually be totally skipped and avoided. Better, more clean options are readily available, and organic beauty is popularizing quickly. There are hundreds of toxin-free products to choose from and surely there are more to come.  

Here are two very useful website that will help you navigate your way to finding non-toxic personal care products:
The Environmental Working Group 
Safe Cosmetics


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