From your morning routine to the time before you go to bed every night, the average person uses a variety of beauty and skincare products. Face washes, soaps, body washes, moisturizers, makeup, eye creams, nail care, shampoos and conditioners, face and hair masks, and various others, there is a long list of products you don’t really think twice about using.
What most people are unaware of is that many of the products they put on their skin actually contain harmful chemicals. Thanks to stale regulatory standards administered by the FDA and oversight by government bodies, thousands of products go unchecked for toxic chemicals. According to a CDC report, over 73,000 products were found to contain 88 ingredients that were linked to various skin problems.
Considering our skin is the shield and armor against environmental and other external stressors. It only makes sense that you do your utmost diligence in making sure you’re not using anything that damages your skin.
While it might be difficult to avoid all synthetic ingredients as some of them are good for your skin, there are some toxic chemicals in skincare products that you can avoid by reading the labels.
Here are a few names that should raise red flags when you’re out shopping for skincare products:
These are plasticizing chemicals that are often disguised under fragrance and perfumes in the ingredient list. These soften plastics and help perfume stick and linger on the skin. Also, using them as part of the fragrance’s chemical makeup, they are used in skincare products like lotions to help them penetrate into the skin.
Phthalates are found to be endocrine disruptors and may interfere with hormone actions in our bodies. Avoiding this chemical can be a little tricky as manufacturers are not always required to label them when they are added to the fragrance. To steer clear, try looking for products that mention they are phthalate-free.
- Artificial Fragrances or Parfum
Yes, there is no benefit of having synthetic fragrances lingering on your skin. These are irritants and can possibly lead to contact dermatitis, where your skin becomes red and inflamed. In addition to phthalates, various other irritants, endocrine disruptors, solvents and preservatives can be found in such products.
It’s not always easy to determine which compounds are present in fragranced skincare products, which makes unscented and natural skincare products better alternatives.
Parabens are chemical compounds used as preservatives in skincare products. They prevent the growth of mold, bacteria and germs in products like shampoos, prolonging their shelf life and preventing them from spoiling.
But that’s not all that they do. Parabens have been found to be endocrine disruptors, causing increased estrogen production. In addition, these chemicals have been found in breast tissue obtained from people with breast cancer. Some common examples of parabens include Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, and Isobutylparaben.
This chemical has become one of the most commonly known toxic chemicals to avoid in skincare products. This chemical is used as a preservative, both in skincare and other applications. The difference is that the latter used it to preserve cadavers while the prior uses it to prevent bacteria growth.
Found in various products such as lotions, deodorants, hair gels, and hair straightening treatments, formaldehyde is found to be acarcinogen. It’s not only formaldehyde that you should be wary of. In addition, formaldehyde releasers such as Bronopol and DMDM hydantoin are also skincare product no-nos.
- Alcohol (drying alcohol)
Long term use of drying alcohols is known to cause skin irritation. Isopropanol, propanol, and denatured ethanols are common and found in various types of products including toners, soaps, moisturizers, and others.
It irritates the skin by drying it out and causing it to become flaky. Denatured alcohols are also known to impact the skin’s integrity by interrupting its natural healing and renewal process.
Talc is a type of naturally-occurring mineral that is known to be quite soft. Talcum powders, mineral makeup, certain blushes, eye shadows, deodorants, and baby powders often contain this ingredient to absorb moisture. It can often be contaminated with asbestos and has been associated with ovarian cancer.
These are silicon-based and often known as cyclic silicones due to the structure of the compound. Siloxanes are found in different types of skincare products; used for their smoothening and moistening qualities.
While not extensively harmful in small quantities, these chemicals have been linked to endocrine disruption and are better avoided.
Sulfates are surfactants that are obtained from various sources including petroleum and palm oil. These are added to skincare products such as shampoos to create lather and remove dirt, grime, and oil from the scalp.
Not only can they irritate eyes and skin, but they can also damage hair. Sulfates are also found to be toxic for marine life and harmful for the environment when derived from palm oil, leading to rainforest destruction.
This chemical compound is often found in skincare products marketed to treat pigmentation caused by acne scars, age spots, etc. It works by reducing the production of cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for creating melanin. The compound is also a known carcinogen. Prolonged use of skincare products containing hydroquinone may lead to skin whitening and damage.
Among other toxic chemicals to avoid in skincare products is triclosan. It is added to skincare products such as soaps, hand sanitizers and certain cosmetics for its antimicrobial properties. However, it is an endocrine disruptor and is found to have a severe impact on thyroid and hormone function in the body. In fact, many countries including the U.S. have banned this ingredient in some capacity.
Make the Switch to Natural Skincare Products
In addition to making label checking a part of your shopping routine, making the switch to natural skincare products is the best way to avoid toxic chemicals. Your skin works hard to protect you from harmful external elements, so treat it right by choosing what’s best for it.
Shop at Clarity RX Clinical Skincare to access a range of carefully-curated natural skincare products that boast the benefits of high-quality ingredients that sustain your skin’s health.