We put a special kind of trust in the things that we use to make us beautiful: they are always at our sides and on our vanities. They are one of the first thing we use in the morning and help us get ready for bed at night. But are the components in our beauty care regimen truly deserving of this undying love and trust?
Not always, The product labels are full of complex chemicals names that you can barely pronounce. despite the confusion these substances continue to be used as ingredients in our beauty care products . Here are the top 10 common chemicals to avoid from here on out and why they should be nixed from the process that makes us even more beautiful than before.
- Coal Tar Dyes: Used in permanent hair dye and many cosmetics, these chemicals can be identified as C.I and then followed by five numerical digits, or in the US they can be identified by “FD&C” or “DC” and then the name of a color. One that is particularly common in darker hair dyes is called P-phenylenediamine. These dyes are petroleum byproduct and known carcinogens to humans. At times, they are contaminated by heavy metals or trace amounts of aluminum. In some cases, it can even increase the risks of ADHD. So next time you’re getting your roots touched up, look for a brand that only uses natural dyes.
- BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid): A common ingredient in over the counter moisturizers and makeup, this chemical interferes with hormone functions. BHA’s are closely related to preservatives in makeups like lipstick and moisturizer to give it a longer shelf life. It’s also under consideration as a potential carcinogen. Because it can seep through the skin it also is prone to inducing allergic reactions. Is that perfect shade of red lipstick really worth all of this?
- Formaldehyde – Releasing Preservatives: Formaldehyde causes cancer. No if ands or buts, this is a well-established carcinogen that appears frequently in a wide range of cosmetics from deodorant to nail polish. Some of the most common ones are Methenamine, DMDM, and Quaternium-15. Some studies have shown that you can absorb formaldehyde through your skin, and even though this substance does occur naturally, the compounding amounts used in our beauty care products are beyond the expected exposure levels.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Found in your foamy products like cleansers and bubble bath gel, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) lead to cancer if they become contaminated by 1,4 -dioxane. SLES is detrimental to liver health, and a skin, eyes, and lung irritant. Over-exposure has in some cases been a cause of depression and some researchers suspect that it has the ability to cause the layers of the skin separate from one another and swell, leading to a compromised immune system in your skin. When looking at the ingredients label, be very wary of words with the ending “-eth” (as in laureth). But there is good news to combat this beauty regimen travesty: sulfate free products do not contain this compound, and it’s very trendy to be sulfate free. Just make sure you look for these alternatives.
- Parabens: These are easy to spot because if it’s present, it is clearly in an ingredient name: for example there is methylparaben and ethylparaben. Used as a preservative in most cosmetics, it prevents fungal growth; however this chemical isn’t all rainbows and sunshine – parabens are quite toxic and commonly associated with breast cancer. They seep through the skin with ease and interrupt natural hormone functions, typically forcing the body to produce an excess of estrogen – a grower of breast cancer cells – even male hormone functions are affected by this chemical. Not only are your breasts at risk, but when parabens in the skin react with UVB light (found in sunlight) it leads to accelerated skin aging due to increased skin and DNA damage. So your foundation may last for an extended period of time, but your body might as well be in an aging time-lapse machine.
- DEA (diethanolamine): DEA can typically be found in your creamy moisturizers, sunscreens, and shampoos. When they bond with the nitrites – added as an anticorrosive – in cosmetics, they form the nitrosamine carcinogen. Used to create a creamy, sudsy texture and temper the acidity of a product, DEA will irritate the eyes and skin, but high levels exposure have led to thyroid problems and liver cancer. Now it’s not necessary to fear for your life at this point, but you need to monitor the levels of exposure you have to this chemical; look for sunscreen, shampoo, and moisturizer alternatives to incorporate into your routine.
- Petrolatum: Curious why this sounds mildly familiar? Maybe you know it by its other name; Petroleum Jelly. Yes, ladies and gentlemen petroleum jelly. Used to lock in the moisture in your skin and lips, this is a common ingredient in moisturizer, lip balm, and hydrating lipstick. Now here is the good news: on its own it is not harmful to you, but if it has been contaminated by PAH’s- the contaminant in mineral oil – then it becomes an issue. Prolonged exposure to contaminated petrolatum can be linked to cancer. So what you need to take away from this is that you need to know the purity of this product before you buy it: if it’s pure then you are 100% in the clear, carry on about your moisturizing.
- Mineral Oil: Found in baby oils, lotions, and soaps, this is most harmful if it has been poorly refined. Because mineral oil is commonly contaminated with PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon: in layman’s terms it’s a probable carcinogen), when it is absorbed by your skin, the chemicals that seep into your body slowly damage your liver. Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum that clogs your pores while inhibiting your skin’s ability to get rid of the toxins in your body. Thus, an ingredient that sounds so lovely and natural in fact causes acne and premature wrinkles along with other signs of early aging such as slowing your cell development rates. Let’s find something else to slather on our skin shall we? Perhaps a nice, organic coconut oil.
- Triclosan: Used in antibacterial substances in your beauty regimen such as toothpaste, deodorant, cleanser, facial tissues, and even laundry detergent, triclosan is absorbed through the skin and has been found to disrupt your body’s hormone functions and its ability to balance these hormones. You can’t just wash this stuff down the drain and expect it to go away forever: this chemical doesn’t break down into its components with ease and is quite harmful to water environments. Check your ingredients label next time to make sure that you aren’t putting your body at risk when all you want to do is be clean. I know it sounds scary, but there are plenty of products on the market that will not put your body in danger while you are using them.
- Aluminum: Though we love to wrap our food in this metal, it’s best left outside of our bodies.Found commonly in your deodorants, body sprays, and even feminine hygiene products, aluminum has been found as a cause or contributing factor to both Alzheimer’s Disease and breast cancer when excessive exposure has occurred. Aluminum when in the body essentially acts as a pore plug for a short period of time. During the time when this ‘plug’ is in effect, toxins cannot be removed from the body through sweat or oils, and thus the toxins that would be released are sent back into the bloodstream where they can bond to our red and white blood cells and given time, they will have the potential to cause microvascular strokes, which in turn lead to even bigger issues