The All-to-Common Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Beauty Products
Unfortunately, the beauty industry isn't always pretty.
I’ve spent the last decade learning more about how what we put in and on our bodies can affect our overall health. What I’ve found is that far too many toxic chemicals are formulated into the beauty products we use daily. This has led me to make the switch to using cleaner products and I highly recommend you consider doing the same.
Here’s the dilemma: Unknowingly to most Americans, the FDA actually doesn’t do much to regulate the beauty industry. Cosmetics companies do not have to conduct safety testing on their products and that leads to thousands of harmful ingredients landing in the skin care and makeup we use every day. This includes things like carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins and hormone disruptors to name a few. The EU which is comprised of 28 European countries has banned 1328 toxic chemicals in cosmetics, whereas the US has only banned 30. What’s even more shocking, 1934 was the last time congress passed a major federal law regulating cosmetic safety and ingredients.
That’s why it’s important to read the labels of products you’re putting on your body. Here are some of the most toxic chemicals that may be lurking in your beauty products.
Toxic Chemicals to Avoid
Parabens: These are preservatives commonly found in makeup, shampoo, spray tans and more. They’re used to keep mold and bacteria out of your beauty products, which sounds like a good thing. The problem is parabens can mimic estrogen and studies have found that this is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Lead: You have likely heard all about what a major problem it is to find out a house contains lead paint. Lead is a proven neurotoxin linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility and delays in puberty for females. So, can you imagine finding out lead is in your lipstick? A recent study conducted by the FDA found that 400 popular lipstick brands contained up to 7.19ppm of lead. Avoiding lead isn’t as easy as just reading the labels though. Lead often gets into cosmetics through contamination. The Annmarie Skin Care team says, “The best way to avoid lead is to buy makeup from companies that make products in small batches and avoid contamination, or to buy products colored with fruit and other natural pigments.”
Phthalates: These chemicals are often used to plasticize products like deodorant, lip balms and nail polishes. Phthalates have been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, which handles hormone production. They’re often listed as a “fragrance,” so to avoid them, look for products that are fragrance-free or scented with essential oils.
Sodium lauryl sulfate: Also known as SLS, you’ll find this ingredient in many shampoos, body washes and toothpastes. It’s a surfactant used in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products. The reason you want to avoid it whenever possible though is that it can lead to skin irritation, canker sores and other skin issues. Some also claim that when SLS combines with other chemicals, it can create nitrosamines, a carcinogen.
Triclosan: This is an ingredient associated with antibacterial products like toothpaste, deodorant and soap. It has been known to cause hormonal disruptions, bacterial resistance and increased allergies.
Oxybenzone: The main place you’ll find oxybenzone is in sunscreen. It mimics estrogen in the body, which leads to hormone disruption. Look for sunscreens that use ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium oxide instead.
Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene and Formaldehyde: Unfortunately, these three chemical have been linked to everything from headaches to respiratory problems to birth defects. You’ll find them all commonly used in nail polishes, which is one of the reasons women are advised to avoid nail products during pregnancy.
My Favorite Non-Toxic Skincare & Beauty Brands
Non-toxic beauty brands that create effective products can be hard to find. Lucky for you, I’ve made it my mission over the past few years to find the best good-for-your-skin products out there. Here are some of my favorite brands to date.
Ever Skin*: Ever products are clinical grade and its skin care and makeup contain clean, thoughtful ingredients based on the EU’s standards. Several Ever products have won Allure Best of Beauty Awards for their powerful results.
Vapour Beauty: All Vapour products are organic and are made with natural ingredients. The cruelty-free brand even operates its own USDA Organic lab so it can control the standards for purity and performance.
RMS Beauty: This is another brand made with organic ingredients that still has great quality products. All its makeup and beauty supplements are gluten-free, GMO-free and cruelty-free.
Ere Perez: This line of effective natural makeup is made from ingredients like oils, plant extracts and minerals. The brand blends those quality ingredients with antioxidants for even more skin benefits.
HAN Cosmetics: HAN creates high-performance vegetarian and vegan cosmetics made with skin-loving ingredients like shea butter, argan oil and superfruits.
Fit Glow Beauty: This skincare and makeup brand is organic, cruelty-free, gluten-free, vegan and made with plant-based ingredients.
Lily Lolo: If you love mineral makeup, you have to check out this line. All the products are cruelty-free, gluten-free and vegan. Plus, of course, they’re made with other good-for-you ingredients.
Pai Skincare: Sensitive skin? This is the brand for you. This skincare line is designed with sensitive skin in mind and the products are formulated without parabens, alcohol, detergents and artificial fragrance.
Gabriel Cosmetics: This is another organic, vegan and gluten-free cosmetics brand I love. Gabriel specializes in sustainable beauty products made to enhance a woman’s natural beauty.
Ella + Mila: When it comes to nail polishes, this is my favorite brand. The vegan products are never tested on animals and the brand is dedicated to healthy beauty.
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As an Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Duke Integrative Medicine trained health and wellness coach, I love helping women create sustainable long-term changes with their health so they can feel their best inside and out.
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*Note: I am an independent founding vice president with Ever Skin and will make commission on products purchased. However, I only post about clean products I truly love and believe in.