You’ve been there, in the beauty aisle of your favorite store, not sure what to buy, wondering if these products are even going to help your skin. In fact, we’ve all been there. Skincare aisles can feel daunting, and it’s difficult to know what product ingredients are really good for you. Unfortunately, there are a lot of toxic ingredients in many of today’s skincare items. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 worst skincare ingredients and why they’re toxic.
You’ve more than likely heard of parabens by now, most companies have worked hard to advertise if their product is paraben-free; however, a lot of products still contain these nasty preservatives. They’re found in face washes, creams, masks, body washes, and more. Parabens mimic estrogen, once absorbed by the body, this can cause hormone imbalance which can lead to unhealthy cell division, infertility in both men and women, and so on. Parabens can still be used in products because, in small amounts, they are technically “ok”; however, using products that contain them daily, can cause a build-up and toxicity of parabens in the body. Instead look for products that use preservatives such as vitamin e, tea tree oil, sodium chloride, and grapefruit extract.
Per and Poly Fluoralkyl Substances (PFA’s)
These pesky chemicals don’t break down easily so also harm the planet’s health. When looking at ingredients lists, look for ingredients with “fluoro” in the name, and if you see them, put the product down and slowly back away because an accumulation of PFA’s in the body can lead to thyroid impairment, cause unhealthy cell growth, and reduce the effectiveness of certain medications and vaccines. Unfortunately, they’re found in a slew of products, especially water-resistant or waterproof ones. Generally, if you opt for products that are natural and organic, you will avoid these toxic chemicals.
Toluene can be a tricky chemical to spot because while it can be labeled as Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT); it’s often listed as Benzene Methylbenzene, Phenyl Methane, or Toluol. It’s used in skincare products as a solvent that stops color from separating. Toulene can lead to brain toxicity; therefore, while everyone should avoid it, pregnant women or women wanting to become pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid this chemical. To avoid this, it’s best to look for products that either have to be shaken to blend or use polychem 36 (a nontoxic, biodegradable solvent).
If you’re sensitive to fragrance, you may already be avoiding these harmful chemicals. Phthalates, pronounced falates, are stabilizers that help products stick to the skin. Unfortunately, they’re not always listed by their name, and like many other chemicals, fall under the labeling term “fragrance.” Like parabens, they can disrupt hormone health, increase the early onset of puberty, decrease adult male fertility, are toxic to reproduction and growing fetus’, and impair cognitive development. That’s quite a hefty list of negative interactions; therefore, it’s best to look for personal care items that are scent-free or scented using essential oils, fruits, or antioxidants.
SLS & SLES
These chemicals are often still used as a synthetic foaming agent because, like parabens, they’re deemed “safe” in small quantities; however, the accumulation of SLSs has negative health implications, considering they can be found in basically any personal care item that foams, accumulation isn’t difficult. SLSs are derived from petroleum or palm oil and SLESs are a smaller version of the chemical that has undergone an additional process where they’re contaminated with the chemical 1.4-dioxane. Topically, they can cause skin irritation, dermatitis, and skin dryness. Instead, use products that use yucca or coconut as their foaming agents.
Unfortunately, many of these toxic ingredients are still being used in skin and personal care items today. While the 5 chemicals listed above are harmful; there are many more, including lead, oxybenzone, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde-releasing agents, and triclosan. By being informed, you can check your labels and take back control of your health, and when in doubt, opt for skincare items that are natural, organic, and fragrance-free.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.