If you opened up your cabinet and counted the toxins in your skin care products, how many would you find? The number might surprise you – or even shock you. Popular skin care products, even ones labeled “natural,” often hide toxic chemicals and ingredients you would never put on your skin by using clever names or by burying them in the fine print.
We are exposed to toxins every day through the environment, skin care, food, cleaning products, and more. Luckily, with all of the information available today, it’s easier than ever to look for them and avoid them. Here are ten toxins to avoid in skin care products.
Formaldehyde is a pungent gas used in making many household products. You can find it in glues, particleboard furniture, insulation, plywood, fabrics, and so much more. Formaldehyde is also found in hair-straightening products, nail polish, skin care products, and other beauty products where it is used as a preservative to stop bacteria from forming. It is also used to extend the shelf life of the product. However, the good news is there are natural, healthier alternatives to formaldehyde in skin care products. At The Spa Dr., we use a mix of tocopherols made from GMO-free sunflower oil to keep products shelf-stable.
2. Mineral oil
The next toxin to avoid in skin care products is mineral oil – also called petrolatum, petroleum jelly, and paraffin oil. Mineral oils are actually widely considered safe for use – however, they’re derived from crude oil and accumulate in the body. This accumulation is the result of mineral oil present in skin care products and some beauty products – especially lipstick. Mineral oil may also contain carcinogens and other impurities. Skip the mineral oil and use more sustainable, natural, and healthier products instead.
Parabens have become a hotly debated skin care ingredient in recent years. You can find them labeled as propylparaben, benzylparaben, methylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben and other names. Parabens are used to extend the shelf life of products and are very inexpensive for manufacturers to use.
However, there is evidence that parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can become a health risk when used over time. In my professional experience, I have seen clear connections between paraben levels and what kind of skin care people are using. Today, there are many paraben-free skin care products to choose from, including The Empress Divine® skin care products!
4. DEA, MEA, and TEA
DEA, MEA, and TEA are ethanolamine compounds used to make skin care products such as body wash and face cleansers creamy and foamy. These ingredients can react with other chemicals to form carcinogens – and some studies have shown that repeated use of these ingredients can lead to organ toxicity and skin issues. DEA use is banned in Europe and Canada, but still used regularly in the United States. On the label, DEA, MEA, and TEA are pretty easy to spot – but they might be listed by names such as triethanolamine and diethanolamine.
Another toxin to avoid in skin care products is triclosan. Triclosan is used as a preservative and anti-bacterial agent. Unfortunately, it has been linked to skin issues such as irritation, allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. Some studies have found that triclosan may be an endocrine disruptor. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that triclosan was not an effective ingredient or recognized as safe for use in over-the-counter topical antiseptics.
Many people love silicone in skin care products and makeup because it has a soft and slippery texture and the ability to blur pores. And although silicone makes your skin feel soft too, you’re actually experiencing a false sense of skin improvement. Although it is derived from silica, silicone is a synthetic ingredient created with chemicals. Silicone also clogs pores and traps impurities, sweat, and bacteria inside of them, which can lead to breakouts. And as silicone traps these things in your pores, it slows down cell turnover. As a result, you not only have breakouts, but you also have dull-looking skin when the silicone layer is removed.
The main purpose of using silicone in skin care products is to provide a smooth appearance. It does not have any actual benefits for your skin. It does not contain antioxidants, vitamins, or minerals that nourish your skin. Silicone isn’t environmentally friendly either – it is not biodegradable and can take as long as plastic to decompose.
Oxybenzone is a toxin to avoid in skin care products such as sunscreen and lip balms with SPF. However, oxybenzone actually absorbs UV rays. Studies have shown that oxybenzone can cause skin allergies, disrupt hormones, and accumulate in fatty tissues. Not only is oxybenzone harmful to humans, but it’s also toxic to coral and marine life. Because of this, the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone has been banned in Hawaii. So when you’re choosing a sunscreen, make sure it is zinc oxide-based and free of oxybenzone.
Yes, it’s the same stuff that coats your nonstick cookware – Teflon. Teflon has been found in many skin care and makeup products. This includes foundation, sunscreen, mascara, eyeshadow, moisturizer, and more. It is used to give products a smooth and slippery feel and as a binding agent.
You don’t want to use Teflon cookware – and you definitely don’t want to use Teflon skin care or makeup. Teflon has been linked to hormone disruption. Plus, it slows the skin’s ability to heal and accelerates wrinkle formation.
Unfortunately, Teflon can be tricky to find on the label. Look for DEA-C8-18 perfluoroalkylethyl phosphate, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), and polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether.
One more toxin to avoid in skin care products is hydroquinone. Although many people claim it does not pose a risk to humans, scientific evidence shows otherwise. Hydroquinone is used in skin care products as a skin lightener. It can be found in everything from cleansers to bleaching creams and can cause redness, peeling, and irritation. Hydroquinone has also been associated with contact vitiligo and ochronosis – irreversible lesions on exposed skin.