What’s In Your Skincare Products?
Have you ever looked at the label to read the ingredients on your cosmetics? Most people would probably answer NO. And if you have, you probably stopped reading after a few words into it because who can pronounce those words, let alone understand what they are? You may be very surprised and alarmed to hear that some of your favorite brands and products use ingredients that can cause cancer or are associated with developmental problems. Many people use the same products for years and have not noticed any difference or changes in their body. Research suggests that certain chemicals cause long-term gradual changes in their body. Repeated exposures can cause the body to develop an allergy and chemicals can accumulate in the body over time. Some of these chemicals can even pass onto the fetus in pregnant women.
Little Known Facts:
- Cosmetic makers are NOT required to assess how much of the chemicals get into the body and what the effects might be.
- No one is assessing the safety of cumulative exposures.
- ONLY products with the USDA Organic seal contain ingredients from plants grown without pesticides and fertilizers.
Now let’s talk about what those ingredients are:
- Fragrance: usually a chemical mixture associated with allergic reactions and hormone disruption.
- Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40): a common solvent and drying to the skin, which can disrupt the natural barrier to the skin – as the skin is your first line of defense for the immune system. It can act as a carrier, accelerating the penetration of other harmful chemicals.
- DEA, MEA, and TEA: Diethanolamine, DEA, is used to produce foam and bubbles in cosmetics and can be used to adjust the acidity to make sure the product is not harsh on the skin. DEA and MEA are used to stabilize foams. TEA is used as a fragrance. When these products are used in combination with other preservatives, they breakdown from the nitrogen into nitrosamines which are potential carcinogens.
- Benzopheone: aka Oxybenzone aka BP2 is a common cancer-causing, endocrine disruptor also associated with organ toxicity. It is found in lip balm, nail polish, foundations, sunscreen, moisturizers, shampoo, conditioners and hair spray.
- Homosalate: is part of the salicylate family. Salicylates absorb UV light and this one works specifically to absorb UV-B rays, which are associated with an increased risk of skin cancer. Negative effects on the body include endocrine disruption, and since homosalate is absorbed in the outer layer of the skin, it has been noted to enhance the absorption of pesticides.
- Octinoxate: is a chemical used to filter UV-B rays. It is found in hair color products, shampoos, sunscreen, lipstick, nail polish and skin creams. It is an endocrine disruptor.
- Petroleum: aka Paraffin oil, Mineral oil. Petroleum poses no real health concerns when it is refined properly. When incomplete refining occurs, petroleum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which get stored in fats. PAHs are considered to be propable carcinogens with a 50% increased risk of breast cancer.
- 1,4-dioxane: ON the label = Sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds. 1-4-dioxane is generated through a chemical process. It is common in products that create suds like shampoo, liquid soap and bubble bath. The concern is that this compound readily penetrates the skin and is probably a human and animal carcinogen. The FDA does not require it to be listed as an ingredient and the best way to avoid this product is to avoid the above-mentioned products or to buy USDA National Organic-certified products.
- Triclosan: is an antimicrobial agent commonly found in soaps, detergents, tooth paste, deodorants, shaving products and more; however, it has not been found to be superior to regular soap and water for protection from bacteria. Triclosan is concerning due to its endocrine disruption as well as the increase in bacteria resistance. It is a lipophilic compound, meaning it will accumulate in fatty tissues and has also been found in cord blood of newborns.
- Formaldehyde: that “nail polish smell”; used to harden nail polish. It can increase the risk of cancer, irritate eyes and airways along with causing skin problems and nausea.
- Dibutyl phthalate: part of the phthalate family, which are known endocrine disruptors. This ingredient is a plasticizer used to soften nail polish to prevent it from cracking. It can have effects on a fetus and impair fertility through its endocrine-disrupting effects.
There are many more chemicals and compounds to be aware of. If you have more questions about specific things you can consult the resources below.