With how absolutely massive the skincare and cosmetic industries are, you would think that companies would be regulated and forced to create safe, wholesome products that pose no threat to the health of consumers.
Unfortunately, this is quite far from the truth. Though there are standards placed upon these corporations, many still squeak through the system by using ingredients that are under or unregulated.
The average consumer does not notice the toxins within the ingredient listing and think nothing of applying the product regularly.
Harmful Chemicals in Skin Care Products
When reactions do happen, large companies are usually just slapped with a fine or minor penalty and allowed to move on, creating a cycle of unsafe product consumption.
As purchasers, those who buy the products are the lifeblood of the companies. Educating yourself is important and can prevent you from encountering some seriously nasty chemical additives that can cause reactions ranging from skin irritation to cancer.
For example, parabens are commonly added to products to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus. Used since the 1950s, around eighty five percent of cosmetic products are estimated to contain them, including lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizers.
Deemed safe for decades, the chemical comes in many forms and sometimes is listed under names like butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.
Lately, there has been a trend within product formulations to avoid paraben inclusion.
Why? It turns out, a 1990s study revealed that parabens are xenoestrogens, meaning they mimic estrogen when absorbed into the body. Estrogen exists naturally so this should be no big deal, right? Not really, as ties between elevated estrogen levels and breast cancer have been found.
The mimicry likely contributes to an increased risk of breast cancer, making it potentially unsafe but since studies are still ongoing in proving a correlation between xenoestrogens and cancer, companies can still use the parabens.
Fortunately, a lot of companies are taking part in the niche marketing trend of paraben free products. In a win-win situation, companies are making more money by catering to health concerned consumers and those who purchase the paraben free products are safer than usual.
As commonly used binding agent in everything from window cleaning sprays to perfumes, phthalates are everywhere.
It is incredibly hard to avoid exposure to this compound, as it transcends the beauty industry and exists in household cleaners and plasticware due to its ability to add flexibility to plastics.
Its ever present form makes it one of the scarier potentially dangerous additives, as it has been linked to health issues including asthma, breast cancer, fertility issues, neurotoxicity, and many other serious conditions.
There are also potential extra risks for pregnant women, as phthalates may cause birth defects and hinder fetal development.
Shockingly, several companies have even come under fire for attempting to hide the presence of phthalates as ”fragrance” in labelling, though this practice has been heavily discouraged by legal officials.
Like parabens, many companies are making the switch to phthalates free product formulations, taking advantage of the unique market avenue that has been created and ensuring the health of their consumers.
BHA and BHT, also known as butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene, are popular preservatives used to prevent the oxidation of products, especially oils.
When something oxidizes, it typically goes rancid, which spoils the entire product. Extremely effective, BHA and BHT have been around for decades and are incredibly popular within both the food industry and cosmetic markets.
Despite this, BHA and BHT both have been found to potentially increase the risk for certain types of cancers and impact liver function, allowing the build up of toxins within the blood to dramatically rise.
Though these are likely fine in small doses, a healthy diet of fresh food and using organic cosmetic alternatives is recommended to prevent overexposure.
Retinol, or vitamin A, is incredibly popular in anti-aging products and skincare as a whole. Both low and high end companies are utilizing this so called miracle wrinkle reducer, making it popular across the board.
Recently, though, scientists discovered that there may be a correlation between topical usage of vitamin A and an increase in tumor growth. Retinol also has a negative impact on DNA formation and could potentially actually work against it.
Most doctors recommend finding other anti-aging ingredients and avoiding retinol when possible, especially if you are pregnant or trying to conceive due to potential DNA related birth defects and harmful tumor growth risks.
Exfoliation is absolutely vital to healthy, glowing skin. The minutes it takes to scrub your skin unleashes soft, fresh cells.
Many natural exfoliants like walnut shell fragments have come under fire in recent years due to their harsh nature which creates micro tears in the skin that can cause premature aging.
Due to this, dermatologists have started to recommend chemical exfoliants that do not actually scrape the skin. Despite this, a market still exists for those who prefer physical exfoliation, leading companies to seek out other means of scrubbing.
Thus, polyethylene was born. Also known as PEG, polyethylene is a synthetic scrubber made of plastic that is thought to be more gentle than natural exfoliants.
Sadly, PEGs are often contaminated with a compound known as dioxane that is a known carcinogen.
On top of this, the plastic beads have been banned in many parts of the world after it was discovered that when used in toothpastes, the beads can be trapped within your gums and cause irritation.
Polyethylene also has a negative environmental impact. Sewage systems are not properly formatted to remove the beads from passing water, allowing them to enter into ecosystems where they are consumed by wildlife and cause damage.