The following is an excerpt from The Beauty Diet, a book containing natural beauty secrets to help you achieve ageless beauty from the inside out!
There are countless toxic ingredients added into commerical skin care products. We highly recommend educating yourself more on this topic by referring to the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which is a phenomenal resource for toxic ingredients lurking in commercial beauty products. Health studies and pretesting are not required by the government for these products before they are sold, and only 200 of the 80,000 chemicals in this country have been tested for safety. Below are ten of the worst ingredients, but there are many, many more you should be aware of and avoid.
Remember: your skin is highly permeable - which means what you put on your body is as important as what you put in it!
1. Artificial Colors and Dyes
Used to create alluring colors, the majority of these laboratory-created hues are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources and can be contaminated with things like benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl,which are known human carcinogens. The European Commission's Classification, Labelling, and Packaging regulation considers all synthetic colors to be human carcinogens, but the FDA still allows seven to be used in the US. "D&C" preceding a color and number (e.g. D&C Red 27) on a label means "Drug and Cosmetic" artificial color. When it's followed by the word "lake," it indicates that the pigment is mixed with calcium or aluminum as a fixative so the color stays when applied to the skin, this is why certain lipsticks don't bleed.
Watch out for: conditioners, cosmetics such as blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick, deodorants, hand soaps, lotions, nail polishes, shampoos, and toothpastes.
1,4-Dioxane is a known eye and respiratory tract irritant that easily penetrates the skin. The National Toxicology Program has titled it a known animal carcinogen, and the Environmental Protection Agency has classified it as a probably human carcinogen (no human trials have been conducted). As a chemical solvent primarily used in the manufacturing process, dioxane is hidden in thousands of products. The only way to know that the product you use is free of dioxane is if it sports the USDA Organic certification seal.
Watch out for: anti-aging products, baby soaps, body firming lotions, body washes, bubble baths, hair dyes and bleaches, deodorants, eye serums, facial moisturizers, hair relaxers, mouthwashes, shampoos, sunless tanning products, and toothpastes.
3. Fragrances/Parfum, Synthetic
These words can indicate up to a thousand toxic and/or carcinogenic substances, including phthalates, which create the scent added to a product. According to the FDA and to the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, synthetic fragrances may cause allergies, headaches, dizziness, dermatitis, skin discoloration, skin irritation, violent coughing, vomiting, and potential effects on the reproductive system.
Watch out for: body washes, colognes/perfumes, conditioners, deodorants, moisturizers, sanitary pads, shampoos, and tampons.
Determined by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the US Department of Health and Human Services to be a human carcinogen, formaldehyde is used to prevent bacterial growth in cosmetic products. This preservative has been linked to nasal and nasopharyngeal cancers, can cause unsightly skin reactions, and can be harmful to the immune system. Also, keep an eye out for the following chemicals, which react with water within the product's bottle to create formaldehyde, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15.
Watch out for: body washes for adults and children, bubble baths, conditioners, eye shadows, hair straighteners, nail polishes, and shampoos.
5. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
Ethylene compounds are nervous system depressants and potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys. PEG in and of itself is not a major concern; however, it is generally contaminated with dioxane (see description above), ethylene oxide, and heavy metals, which are known to cause kidney, neurological, and autoimmune issues. Manufacturers could spend the money to strip these toxins out but most often leave them in to cut costs, therefore it's best to avoid all products containing ethylenes.
Watch out for: antimicrobial creams, cosmetics, conditioners, deodorants, moisturizers, sanitary pads, shampoos, and tampons.
6. Sodium Benzoate
This very common preservative is found at the end of many ingredient lists. While on its own it may seem innocuous, when it comes into contact with citric acid or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) - whether in the rest of the ingredients or present in your body - it morphs into a known carcinogen called benzene. It's worthwhile to note that sodium benzoate is often used to preserve extracts and so it may be hidden within an ingredient. For example, while "calendula officinalis extract" may be listed as an ingredient on the label, it could be preserved with sodium benzoate.
Watch out for: conditioners, cosmetics, deodorants, hand soaps, lotions, mouthwashes, shampoos, skin care products, and toothpastes.
Ninety percent of foaming and lathering products contain sulfates. Sulfates are frequently described on labels as "comes from" or "derived from" coconut in an effort to portray them as natural, even though they are known skin and eye irritants and hormone and endocrine disruptors, create organ toxicity, are suspected carcinogens, and can cause labored breathing and diarrhea. Over 16,000 studies have been done on this chemical addressing a long list of concerns. On labels, avoid sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS).
Watch out for: body washes, cosmetics, hair color and bleaching agents, hair spray, liquid hand soaps, mouthwashes, perfumes, powders, scalp treatments, shampoos, sunscreens, and toothpastes.
The America Academy of Dermatology reports that urea is a primary cause of contact dermatitis, especially in concentrated amounts found in skin exfoliants. It remains on the skin for hours, giving it plenty of time to absorb into your skin cells as it works to soften them. Urea's other job is to mix with parabens to create formaldehyde, a toxic preservative discussed above. On a label, you may see it written as diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, or DMDM hydantoin.
Watch out for: anti-aging treatments, cleansers, conditioners, deodorants, eye creams, face masks, foundations, hair dyes, lotions, mouthwashes, shampoos, shaving creams, styling gels, water-based cosmetics, and sunscreens.
Common preservatives and perhaps the foremost chemical group responsible for disrupting the endocrine system, parabens wreak havoc on our sex hormones. Long-chain parabens can mimic estrogens and have been shown, even in low doses, to activate the human epidermal growth factor receptor on cancer genes. A growing body of consumers is demanding that the long-term effects of accumulated parabens in the body be evaluated, as parabens have been founds in over 90 percent of human breast cancer tumors studied and are questioned in relation to declining sperm count in men. On personal care product labels, parabens are often listed with the prefixes ethyl, methyl. propyl, isopropyl, butyl, or isobutyl.
Watch out for: deodorants, toothpastes, soaps, sunscreens, shampoos, and conditioners.
Highly toxic family of industrial chemicals added to plastics to make them flexible. Phthalates are particularly pernicious because they vaporize easily, are colorless and odorless, and easily slough off into the environment. They can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, ingestion, or through the skin into the bloodstream. The CDC states that phthalates are detected in nearly every American, from babies to adults. Phthalates are responsible for major thyroid and reproductive system toxicity, manifesting as early onset of puberty in girls, permanent reproductive abnormalities in baby boys, reduced sperm quality and testosterone in men, decreased thyroid hormones, and asthma problems. What's even more shocking is that phthalates are often hidden in products, as they are, for example, one of the many ingredients that can make up the ingredient "fragrance" in a product.
Watch out for: cosmetics, deodorants, hair styling products, hand and body lotions, nail polishes, sanitary pads and tampons, and anything containing fragrance.
Remember that smearing chemicals on your skin is arguably even worse than eating them because they move directly into the bloodstream. When toxins enter through your digestive system, they can be broken down and filtered first, reducing their impact. The Environmental Working Group estimates that one out of five cosmetics could contain a cancer-causing substance. Do you want that seeping directly into your blood?