Have you ever stopped to read those long lists of ingredients on the labels of beauty products? It’s not easy (we know!) but it’s important. While many of the hard-to-pronounce synthetic ingredients are totally safe, there are a few potentially toxic ones. And, crazy but true fact, it’s still perfectly legal for companies to use those toxic ingredients in makeup, deodorant and other personal care products.
That means it’s up to us consumers to do our own research so we can avoid applying these toxins to our skin and hair. There’s some scientific debate about just how much of these chemicals is required to reach dangerous levels. But since so many personal care products are now created without toxins at all, why take the risk?
If you want a skin care routine that minimizes your exposure to potentially harmful or known toxic ingredients, read on to learn which ingredients to avoid in skin care, hair care and cosmetics.
Aluminum in Deodorant
Most antiperspirants contain aluminum to stop sweat from escaping your underarms. Unfortunately, research suggests that exposure to aluminum in deodorant could contribute to an elevated risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and breast cancer.
While the research is inconclusive, there are aluminum-free deodorants that actually work. So if you haven’t already, consider switching to a safe deodorant. Our sweat-activated deodorant contains no aluminum, and is formulated to keep you feeling dry, so it’s safe AND effective.
Phthalates in Product With “Fragrance”
Phthalates, chemicals used to strengthen plastics, may be linked to high blood pressure and reproductive issues. Because they serve as binding agents, phthalates are found in shampoos, hair sprays, traditional stick deodorants and most fragrances used in mainstream personal care products. Be sure to choose companies that publish a full list of their ingredients (including fragrance ingredients!) when you’re using any of these products.
Coal Tar in Shampoo and Hair Dye
Despite being a known carcinogen, coal tar (yes you read that right, coal tar) appears in food coloring, fabrics, and personal care products like dandruff shampoos and hair dyes, especially darker colors.
The FDA says coal tar is safe if the concentration is less than 5%, and coal tar shampoos are sometimes recommended as a legitimate treatment for scalp conditions such as psoriasis. But if you have no scalp problems, there’s no reason to ever use a shampoo containing coal tar. And if you color your hair, seek out brands without coal tar (vegetable-based dyes are growing in popularity!), or follow the FDA’s Coal Tar Hair Dye Safety Checklist, located near the bottom of this page.
Parabens in Makeup
Makeup, shaving cream, and moisturizer are some of the many products that still contain parabens – chemical preservatives that ward off mold and bacteria. The European Union places restrictions on paraben levels in cosmetics, but alas the U.S. does not.
The possible side effects of parabens? Hormone and reproductive problems, and maybe even cancer. Yeah, these are nasty chemicals. Best to avoid at all costs, especially since the large number of paraben-free personal care products on the market proves they aren’t really essential ingredients.
Lead in Lipsticks
Lead was removed from gasoline and paint years ago due to its adverse effects on the kidneys and nervous system. So why is it that it’s still used in products that touch your lips on a daily basis?
Most lipsticks on the market today (and some eye shadows and body lotions) contain measurable amounts of lead. While the FDA has said that trace amounts of lead may be ok, switching to a lead-free lipstick seems like a smart call.
Triclosan in Cosmetics and Soap
Because it fights bacteria, triclosan appears in pesticides, cleaning solutions, and, sadly, some personal care products. In 2017, the FDA banned triclosan from soaps and hand sanitizers, because it hadn’t been proven safe. American toothpaste companies voluntarily removed the ingredient as well.
But, unfortunately, triclosan can still be used in cosmetics. And some countries, including Canada, still allow brands to produce soaps and toothpastes containing triclosan. So check those labels while traveling abroad!
This list of ingredients to avoid in skincare may seem scary, but simply checking labels is all it takes to avoid these toxic chemicals. Do a little research, and you can have confidence that you’re not putting harmful chemicals onto your skin.
Now that you know which ingredients to avoid, how about adding a deodorant with healthy, safe ingredients to your routine?
Written by Scott Shetler