I recently stumbled upon a piece in a very darling of a magazine [and I mean that quite literally, as it’s called Darling Magazine] discussing beauty products and their tendencies to contain very toxic ingredients that sneak their way into our daily routine – in the form of cosmetics, skin and hair care. In the way that it’s wise to opt for foods with ingredients that you can actually pronounce, the same goes for products that you put on your body. Have you ever heard of cyclomethicone or siloxanes? Yeah, me either...and apparently they’re widely used in moisturizers, makeup and hair products and may interfere with hormone function and damage to the liver. Yikes. There are enough other things that wreak havoc on our hormones and the last thing that we need is for our daily moisturizer to be another contributor. Additionally, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are also widely used in some of those very same beauty products and may cause cancer. Le sigh.
This isn’t meant to be a scare tactic per se, however my intention is to bring awareness to paying more attention to beauty product labels in a similar fashion that we do with nutrition labels. You could be smothering your body with very harmful ingredients and not even know it. It's unfortunately just not a topic that is being talked about very much.
Don't obsess, just simply be more aware.
Taking a look back, I myself slacked off in understanding exactly what I was putting on my body until someone informed me that petrolatum (which I discovered was found in almost all of my moisturizers and lotions) was terrible for your skin. That's when I started making a more conscious effort to read labels and recently, I've even started experimenting with ingredients that I have in my own pantry. People may think it’s funky to mix up an avocado mask and rub it all over your face, however as funky as it may seem at the time, your skin is actually soaking up those healthy oils which contributes to a nice glowing boost, with no harmful chemicals involved.
Below, some more tongue twisting ingredients that Darling Magazine lists as potentially harmful.
BHA & BHT – Found in moisturizers and makeup, which also may cause cancer and interfere with hormone function
Dibutyl Phthalate – Found in nail products and can be toxic to reproduction and hormones
Coal Tar Dyes – Look for P-PHENYLENEDIAMINE in hair dyes and colors identified as “C.I.” followed by 5 digits, as they may lead to cancer and can be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
DEA, MEA, TEA – Found in many cream-based and foaming products such as moisturizers and shampoo, which can be cancer causing.
Parabens – Widely used in makeup and moisturizers and may interfere with hormone function; also associated with breast cancer.
PEG Compounds – Used in products such as conditioners, moisturizers and deodorants, which can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane (cancer causing).
Petrolatum – In hair products, lip balm, lipsticks and skin care products and can be contaminated with cancer causing impurities.
SLES & SLS – In foamy products such as shampoo, cleansers and bubble bath and again may cause cancer / liver damage
Triclosan – In “anti-bacterial” products like toothpaste, soaps and hand sanitizers, which may interfere with hormone function and contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Sounds quite overwhelming, doesn’t it? Cancer-this-and-hormones-that is mostly what I drew from that. It's quite unsettling. And we wonder, how are these even permitted on store shelves in mass quantities for consumers to purchase?
Fortunately, there are plenty of honest brands on the rise that are making our well-being a priority. Perhaps you begin with a new face wash and slowly transition to replacing your moisturizer and shampoo. Once you begin, it becomes contagious and you'll really start to care about the quality of the products that you're investing in. Get your feet wet before diving in head first and feeling the need to replace everything all at once – unless, of course, that’s your sort of thing.
Here are a few recent finds and favorites to help you with stocking a clean, safe and non-toxic beauty cabinet.
Redflower Cleansing Hair Wash for scalp stimulation without the residue (aka crap). Active ingredients include peppermint, soy protein, avocado oil, coconut oil and plant extracts. Scents come in Italian Blood Orange, Icelandic Moonflower, French Lavender, Ocean, and Spanish Gardenia.
Mullein & Sparrow Dry Shampoo, a silky hair powder for absorbing excess oils along with a natural volume boost. There's an option for both light & dark hair; the light hair shampoo contains arrowroot powder while the dark version contains a trace of cocoa – us brunettes lucked out here.
Olivine Love & Salt Mist, a volume enhancing mist for sultry beach waves that can also be used as a hydrating body spray. Contains ingredients like purified water, pink himalayan salt and coconut oil. Also available here on Anthropologie.
W3LL People products, such as their Luminist Mineral Bronzer and Satin Mineral Foundation. Anthropologie has a nice Starter Kit that includes a makeup brush, bronzer and foundation as well as a Natural Warrior Set (color stick, lip gloss, eye pencil) with key ingredients like shea butter, beeswax, essential oils and fruit extracts.
Fresh Orange & Clay Mask, a cleansing combination of detoxifying clay and purifying orange to tighten pores and remove oily buildup. All you need is 1 tablespoon of green clay powder (available at health stores or online) along with a squeeze of fresh orange juice to bind it together.
Wildly American Body Scrubs, end of story. This is likely my third time featuring their products on my site, and for good reason. I go through these scrubs like I do a jar of almond butter. Scents (more like flavors) include Coconut, Cucumber Milk and Biscotti - try all three, I beg you.
Redflower Berry White Peat Exfoliant for restoring skin's smooth texture and health by cleansing away dead skin cells and their heaven-sent Lemon Coffee Blossom Olive Stone Scrub with arabic coffee, black olives, sugar, and fresh lemon rind for invigorating the circulatory system and encouraging cellular turnover.
Also, caffeine is thought to be helpful for the surface appearance of cellulite. That's fun.
Indie Lee Unscented Body Lotion, because sometimes "parfums" (that's the fancy way to say it) and frangrances don't react very well to sensitive skin. Keep this bottle tossed in your bag all summer long to keep skin healthy and hydrated.
Spirulina Salt Scrub combining 1 cup sea salt flakes (or Epsom salts), 2 tablespoons spirulina powder and ½ cup melted coconut oil for a natural body scrub that improves skin tone by stimulating blood flow and reducing puffiness.
Again, don't obsess over the ingredients and assume that anything that you can't pronounce is harmful, but start by familiarizing yourself with natural beauty brands and researching to make sure that none of the ingredients raise any crazy red flags. Your skin (& your health) will thank you.