What ingredients to exclude from your vanities?

At times, you will see beauty brands that are being marketed as “edible” or “food-grade” ingredients. The idea is that these ingredients, whether preservatives or glycerin would be safe for you even if it were on your plate. This is because we end to ingest a lot of the ingredients in our personal care products. So it is a big plus if an ingredient in your skincare would not be harmful to eat.

Here are some of the ingredients to exclude from your vanities:

1. Parabens

Function: Preservatives

Problem: They are endocrine disruptors, and as reported by EWG, parabens have been found in  breast cancer and can spur the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells.

What you will see on labels:

Ingredients ending with the word “paraben”, i.e.: butylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben. 

2. Formaldehyde Releasers

Function: Preservatives

Problem: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. It is also associated with asthma, neurotoxicity and development toxicity. 

What you will see on labels:

You will  never see “formaldehyde” on a label, although is it commonly used in makeup, hair, body and skincare products. Instead, you will see names of chemicals that are added to product formula, that releases formaldehyde. When added to water, these chemicals slowly decompose, forming molecules of formaldehyde.

So look for: 2-bromo, 2-nitropropane-1, 3 diol (Bronopol), diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, quaternium-15.   

3. Phthalates

Function: Plasiticizers make products pliable, help fragrance stick to skin, and nail polish to nails.

Problem: They are endocrine disruptors and are associated with birth defects.

What you will see on labels:

Stay away from dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), diethyl phthalate (DEP).

4. Fragrance 

Function: Scent

Problem: This is a tough one, but it id on the list as mentioned because “fragrance”, is a trade secret and prohibits transparency. A loophole in the Labelling Act which explicitly excepts fragrance ingredients from the list of cosmetic ingredients that need to appear on the product label. The truth is that we can really know what is in a product that contains fragrance. All we know is that fragrances are normally made up of a mix of toxic chemicals, often added to get the fragrance to stick to your skin (i.e.: phthalates) or as solvents or colourants.

What you will see on labels:

Fragrance, perfume, parfum, flavour.

5. EDTA 

Function: Biding, stabilising ingredients.

Problem: Available research suggests that ETDA could be toxic to our organs.

What you will see on labels:

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), calcium disodium EDTA, disodium EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA.

6. 1, 4-Dioxane Contamination  

Function: 1, 4-dioxane on itself does not have a specific function. It is a by-product that is created through a process called ethoxylation, which occurs when ethylene oxide is added to other chemicals (which often serves as a surfactant or emulsifier, thickeners, solvents or softeners) to make their effect on skin less harsh.

Problem: 1, 4-dioxane penetrates the skin and is linked to a host of health issues, including cancer, respiratory and organ toxicity, and skin irritations.

What you will see on labels:

You will not see 1, 4-dioxane on the label, but certain ingredients are likely to be contaminated with 1, 4-dioxane, and you’re most likely to find them in bubble products, such as shampoos and foaming facial cleansers.

Look for compounds that include PEG or polyethylene glycol in the ingredient name, for example PEG-8, and compounds that include laureth in the ingredients name, such as laureth-7 and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES); and ingredients that contain the name ceteareth.

7. Ethanolamines 

Function: Surfactants

Problem: Associated with inhibited fatal brain development, hormone disruption, allergies, skin toxicity.

What you will see on labels:

Ethanolamine (ETA), diethanolamine (DEA), cocamide DEA, monoethanolamine (MEA), triethanolamine (TEA).

8. Chemicals Sunscreen  

Function: Sun protection

Problem: They are endocrine and hormone disruptors, plus severe skin irritations that is linked to a variety of health concerns. Chemical sunscreen are known to produce free radicals in the skin include oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Oxybenzone converts UV light to heat and is believed to cause hormonal disruption and cell damage, which can lead to cancer, while retinyl palmitate has been shown to speed up malignant cell growth and the spread of skin cancer. Unlike physical filters, which sit on the surface of the skin deflecting rays, these chemical filters absorb UV rays and partially penetrate the skin, which is where the damage could happen.

What you will see on labels:

Chemical sunscreen ingredients are used in products beyond sunscreen. You will find them in moisturisers and creams, and the same chemicals are included as fragrance ingredients.

Avoid: avobenzone, benzophenone, homosalate, octinaxate, octisalate, octpcrylene, oxybenzone.

9. Other ingredients worth blacklisting 

  • Benzalkonium chloride: a preservative and surfactant connected with severe skin, eye, respiratory irritation and allergies.
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): used to extend a product’s shelf life- and linked to cancer and hormone disruption.
  • Coal tar: the colorant in mascara, eyeliner, hair colour, and anti-dandruff agents, coal tar ingredients are known carcinogen that are the by-product of  petroleum combustion.
  • Hydroquinone: a skin lightener associated with cancer, organ toxicity, skin irritations.
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone: preservatives linked to allergies, skin irritation and neurotoxicity.
  • Thimerosal (mercury):  a preservative associated with neurotoxicity, and organ and developmental toxicity.
  • Toluene: a solvent known to damage the immune system and linked to human reproductive toxicity.
  • Triclocarban and triclosan: antimicrobials associated with aquatic toxicity and human reproductive toxicity as well as antibiotic resistance.
Image: Pinterest



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