Hello Beauty VIGILantes!
When I learned that a lot of the ingredients in common products were derived from crude oil, or found to be carcinogens, I knew I had to change my routine and began using oils and formulating products for my own skin problems. Hemp Seed for redness, Maracuja for fine lines, Camellia to remove my makeup at the end of the day...
After sharing with family and friends, and becoming more involved in the beauty industry, it didn't take long to realize that we have an opportunity to provide safer yet effective products to all of the people we care about, and the people that you care about too.
The place to start looking when taking steps toward detoxifying your routine is the ingredient label.
To help make navigating the world of Latin names and synthetic concoctions a little bit easier...
Here is our watchdog list of the top 5 ingredients to avoid
The parabens used most commonly in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben according to the FDA.
Parabens make the #1 spot on our list because it is one of the most frequently encountered in products from moisturizers to acne treatments and are used as a preservative to extend shelf life of items and prevent bacteria growth in formulas containing or introduced to moisture aka water.
Look for clean products that are produced in small batch runs, sans preservative. It’s best to simply avoid items containing parabens all together.
- Polyethylene or PEGs
PEG is really just a type of “micro-plastic”, or more accurately- a combination of plastics. Polyethylene is commonly found in exfoliators and scrubs and acts as an abrasive medium, and as an emollient that bonds water and oil ingredients. The ingredient has been deemed safe for use in toxicology reports, but there is controversy over whether or not contamination with carcinogenic impurities exists. Regardless, it does have properties that are irritants and it carries deeply into your skin.
Environmentally, these small bits of plastic make their way into waterways as they are rinsed down the sink because they are too small to be filtered out. This makes them a terrible source of waste and toxic pollution.
Look for products with bamboo or another natural exfoliator- just beware that some (like apricot and walnut) are more abrasive than others.
- BHA, BHT
Commonly found in lipstick and eyeshadow, BHA or BHT are used to prevent oxidation in products. There has been enough evidence to cause the European Union to ban this ingredient from products, the state of California’s Prop 65 requires labeling when this ingredient is used, and the National Toxicology Program reported that testing concludes a reasonable risk of BHA or BHT being linked to cancer.
It’s wise to just avoid this ingredient all together.
- Lead, Arsenic, & Mercury
You may encounter some frightening metal ingredients in anything from lipstick, eyeshadows, concealers, and blush to moisturizers and creams. Our bodies need some metals like iron and zinc as long as it’s not in excess, but we want to steer clear of others like lead, arsenic, and mercury.
The reason this is high on our list is that although we are aware of the dangers of these ingredients- few people know that they still can be found in our skincare products.
Look for products with iron oxides and titanium dioxide instead.
If it foams, it may contain sulfates which are known to be an eye and skin irritant, but if not properly processed also contain a known carcinogen- ethylene oxide, and suspected carcinogen- 1,4 dioxane. Some sulfates to be on the eye out for are Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS). Ingredients like these are also found in engine degreaser and detergents. They really don’t belong on your skin.
Look for ingredients ending in “sulfosuccinate” instead such as Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate or Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate. They sound similar but the difference is in the processing. They are not sulfated in production therefore, they are sulfate-free.
We hoped this helped take some intimidation out of deciphering the ingredients found in common skin care and cosmetics products.