Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of and concerned with toxic chemicals in personal care products. We are in need of quality information to help us make informed decisions about our exposure to potentially harmful ingredients in our cosmetics and skincare products. We are entitled to avoid products that may be bad for our health and skin – but the cosmetics companies don’t always agree.
The Paraben Example
Recently we’ve heard a lot about parabens in body products. While it’s true that studies have documented parabens in cancerous breast tissue, a lot of other things are found in the tissue as well. We cannot yet make the leap that parabens actually cause cancer, but there is enough evidence to suggest that avoiding them might be wise until further studies can be done.
Unfortunately, cosmetic companies are smart. They realize people are avoiding parabens, so they have started advertising products that are “paraben-free”. And, for the most part, they are. But that’s only part of the story. Often parabens are replaced with other chemicals that are potentially equally bad or even worse for your health! So while it’s a good idea to look for products without parabens, a catchy tag line isn’t enough. You have to know what is in your products to make truly informed decisions.
The Need for Education
Unless we educate ourselves, we are powerless against a billion dollar industry that will do anything to sell us the latest miracle cure. Of course everyone will have a different comfort zone in terms of the amount of chemicals they feel comfortable having in their beauty products. It’s just like food. Some people eat only organic, some a combination of conventional and organic and some only conventional. As long as consumers are informed, there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing body products.
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
I believe that in an industry that is virtually unregulated, consumers should take the “guilty until proven innocent” stance. I believe we should leave all “questionable” ingredients out of our products and routines until manufacturers have the information needed to let the consumer make a choice they feel comfortable with. In order to make choices that fit within your personal criteria of safety, you need to be educated. Otherwise, you risk allowing chemicals and toxins into your bloodstream that could affect your health without your consent or knowledge.
I always suggest everyone make their own priority list of what they will or won’t use and be exposed to. To get started, take a look at the list of my top 10 to watch out for.
Here is the list of the top 10 ingredients to avoid from my book Look Great, Live Green:
- FORMALDEHYDE AND FORMALDEHYDE DONERS. The following ingredients contain formaldehyde, may release formaldehyde or may break down into formaldehyde:, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium 15, 3 1,4 dioxane
- PHTHALATES. Not listed on label, found in fragrance and other ingredients in your products. A lot of companies are however starting to list phthalate free.
- DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA) AND TRIETHANOLAMINE
- DIAZOLIDINYL UREA AND IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA
- SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE/ LAURETH SULFATE; AMMONIUM LAURETH SULPHATE
- PROPYLENE GLYCOL
- PVP/VA COPOLYMER
- SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCE
We will share more about these and other ingredients to avoid, along with our recommendations for ingredients to seek out and use often in future blogs. Make sure to check back in often!