The Top Harmful Chemicals To Avoid In Skincare
According to the Environmental Working Group, the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every single day. Most contain endocrine disrupters, which can affect hormonal balance and fertility. Some contain ingredients with clear links to cancer.
Because there is little to no regulation of harmful ingredients in personal care products, it is up to us to choose safer products for ourselves and our families.
Here are the top ingredients to avoid in skincare and why.
Used as an anti-bacterial in cosmetics and stabilizer in perfumes, phenoxyethanol is actually very harmful. It is harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through skin, especially to nursing mothers or infants.
In Europe, the European Union classifies it as an irritant and there are various studies (on rabbit skin, for example) that demonstrate reactions at low doses.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) show chromosomal changes and genetic mutation effects in testing as well as testicular atrophy and interference with reproductivity in mice.
The Danish EPA suspected phenoxyethanol of being damaging to the environment and health. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists it as an "irritant and toxic".
Phenoxyethanol can have an effect on the brain and the central nervous system. Although many skin care products (even some organic products as well) use phenoxyethanol in small amounts like 1% that is “not harmful” to skin, if you use the product multiple times a day, every day, it can cumulate and possibly affect your skin and body over time.
PEG (polyethylene glycols) compounds are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners and softeners. It also functions as absorption enhancer which allows both good and bad ingredients to be absorbed faster into deeper parts of skin. If used on broken or damaged skin, it can cause irritation and system toxicity. In addition, PEGs can reduce the skin’s moisture levels and speed up skin aging.
Parabens are used as chemical preservatives in wide array of personal care products such as moisturisers, shampoos, foundations and many more. Over the past few years there has been a huge debate whether parabens are safe to use or not. Some say excessive amount of exposure to parabens may lead to breast cancer, but some argue that daily cosmetic exposure to parabens does not cause you any harm. Basically, everyone’s skin reacts differently depending on various chemicals and skin type. If you would like to take caution, you can definitely find many products without parabens.
Phthalates are used in cosmetics as lubricants (softeners). You can find these in products such as nail polish, moisturisers, shampoos, hair sprays, toys, detergents, and other variety of products. They are known to be endocrine disruptors that is linked to breast cancer and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Phthalates is also known to have some possible effects on hormones. Unfortunately, this is included in many "fragrances" so it is hard to detect in products.
"But I like nice smelling things!!" some people say. Why is fragrance (also called perfume) bad for your skin? Fragrance is basically a blend of aromatic extracts from natural and synthetic ingredients. Used in nearly 50% of beauty products, it actually has a LOT of unknown toxic chemicals that can be harmful to you. Without you knowing, fragrance can irritate skin, have toxic hormonal effects, and may even cause cancer. It may smell fabulous, but it can lead to not-so-fabulous effects on your skin and health. As an alternative, try to find natural fragrances ie: organic essential oils.
Formaldehyde is a colourless, flammable gas. Widely used as preservatives in skincare and cosmetics, it is mainly used in nail polish, makeup, lotions, and deodorants among many other products. Short term exposure can cause skin irritation, difficulty in breathing, watery eyes and burning in the nose when inhaled. Also, according to The International Agency for Research on Cancer, formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen. If your job (such as nail artist, salon stylist etc) requires you to be exposed to copious amount of formaldehyde, make sure your work environment has ventilation or windows so that you can reduce exposure to it.
Written by Gracious Minds
Published May 19, 2021