I get pretty fired up when it comes to ingredients in products and packaging labels. Oftentimes, you cannot pronounce the ingredients listed let alone figure out WHY they are in the product. Have you ever noticed that some companies make it very hard for you as the consumer to locate their ingredient lists? This is usually a bad sign. Most brands load their products with toxic chemicals to make their products have a longer shelf life and, these ingredients are usually pretty cheap, so more profit for the big guys.
On average, women use 12 beauty products per day that combined, have over 160 unique ingredients. Men on average use 6 products per day with over 85 unique ingredients. Wow. Most people don't know which ingredients are harmful or healthy for them. Over time, these chemicals used in beauty products have been known to cause many health issues such as liver and kidney damage, allergies, and even cancer. What's even crazier is that the US has only banned around 12 ingredients in the beauty industry when many more should be banned. Thank goodness for companies like the EWG who continue to fight daily to help protect consumers.
Most brands load their products with toxic chemicals to make their products have a longer shelf life and, these ingredients are usually pretty cheap, so more profit for the big guys.
I'm here to help you understand how to read a product label, learn more about icky ingredients and begin to toss those products that aren't good for you.
Over time, these ingredients have been known to cause many health issues such as liver and kidney damage, allergies, and even cancer.
Red Flag Ingredients
Fragrance Watch out for the word "fragrance" listed as an ingredient. Most often times, this is a blend of anywhere from 10 to hundreds of synthetic chemicals. These blends are considered proprietary to the brand and the brands are not required by law to disclose the ingredients. Fragrance is sometimes listed as "perfume" or "parfum" so be on the watch for this too.
Artificial colors and dyes These ingredients are full of heavy toxic metals, coal tar and petroleum which can lead to skin irritations and breakouts.
How To Read a Label
Start by looking at the last ingredient listed. Most companies like to hide "red flag" ingredients. Just like food ingredient labels, the first ingredient listed in beauty products is the ingredient that is highest in concentration and quantity. The first 5 ingredients listed are always the most important. However, some ingredients (even in small quantities) towards the middle or end of an ingredient list can be harmful.
Just like food ingredient labels, the first ingredient in beauty products listed is the ingredient that is highest in concentration and quantity.
Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid
Aluminum Most often found in anti-perspirants, aluminum has been known to be directly linked to brain function as well as Alzheimer's and autism.
Hydroquinone This ingredient is commonly found in skin lightening products, hair conditioners and nail polish. It has been linked to cancer and organ system toxicity.
Parabens These are very common preservatives found in beauty care products. They allow the products to have a long shelf life. Some examples of parabens are, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.
Petroleum derivatives These are often used in beauty products to make the skin feel silky smooth. In reality, they actually create an unbreathable barrier on the skin which leads to clogged pores.
Phthalates These icky ingredients are used to make products such as hair sprays and lotions more pliable. They have been known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to infertility in men.
Retinol Made in a lab, retinol is a synthetic high dose of vitamin A known to fight off wrinkles and blemishes. It has phytosynthesizing effects which are damaging to free radicals in the skin tissue. Retinol can also cause other side effects such as, skin irritation, itchiness and redness.
Triclosan Used as an antibacterial agent, this ingredient is often found in toothpastes and hand soaps. Unfortunately, triclosan is a microbiome disruptor for the skin and the gut. It has been linked to allergies, asthma and eczema in children.
Silicones Most often found in moisturizers and creams, the structure of silicones can trap dirt and debris into pores. This trapping of dirt can lead to breakouts and skin inflammation. Silicones also impair skin cell turnover. Some common ones are, cyclopentasiloxane and dimethicone.
PEGs/PGs Found in skin cleansers and emulsifying agents, these are used to enhance the penetration of products into the skin. These chemicals are known to worsen eczema and trigger allergies. They have been linked to kidney and liver damage.
Phenoxyethanol Used as a preservative, this chemical is often found in products that contain water such as skin cleansers and shampoo. Some side effects are kidney and liver damage as well as dermatitis.
Please note: Oftentimes, there are more unhealthy chemicals in beauty products, but these are the top 10 to be avoided.
It can be pretty shocking as well as overwhelming when you turn over products and start looking at the ingredients listed. How can these companies get away with toxic ingredients? We have a right to know what is in the products we are purchasing and which ones are harmful. If a company doesn't list ingredients on their label, don't buy it!
It can be pretty shocking as well as overwhelming when you turn over products and start looking at the ingredients listed.
Start by making small changes. Such as, begin by looking at one of your current beauty products and if you see an ingredient listed above, remove it from your routine. From here, you can tackle this project one product at a time and pretty soon, all of your cabinets will be chemical free!
I would love to hear from you about what products you found in your cabinet that have one or more of the ingredients listed above. Share below!