Many of these synthetic chemicals are skin irritants, skin penetrators, endocrine disrupters and are carcinogenic. I can't go through all of these harmful chemicals, but here are 10 you should highly avoid.
Parabens. Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Sounds good, right? Not so fast, they do more than that. Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They can be found in makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers. You can also find them in food and pharmaceutical products.
Synthetic colors. If you take a look at your product label and notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colors. F -- representing food and D&C representing drug and cosmetics. These letters precede a color and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C blue 1). These synthetic colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. The European Classification and Labeling considers it a human carcinogen and the European Union has banned it.
Fragrance. This particular category is pretty scary, because what does "fragrance" mean anyway? This term was created to protect a company's "secret formula." But as the consumer you could be putting on a concoction that contains tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your health. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database, fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. It can be found in many products such as perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturizers.
Phthalates. A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, it is not disclosed on every product as it's added to fragrances (remember the "secret formula" not listed), a major loophole in the law. They can be found in deodorants, perfumes/colognes, hair sprays and moisturizers.
Triclosan. Tricolson is widely used antimicrobial chemical that's a known endocrine disruptor -- especially thyroid and reproductive hormones, and a skin irritant. Studies raise concerns that triclosan contributes to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant. There also wasn't enough supporting evidence that washing with antibacterial soaps containing triclosan provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water. Tricolson can be found in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps and deodorants.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). This surfactant can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products (think foaming products). SLS's are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. These combinations can lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. They can be found in shampoo, body wash/cleanser, mascara and acne treatment.
Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP's) preservatives are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was deemed as a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) and has been linked to occupational related cancers: nasal and nasopharyngeal. It is known to cause allergic skin reactions and it may also be harmful to the immune system. It can be found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, nail polish treatments.
Toluene. A petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. You may see it on labels listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is a potent solvent able to dissolve paint and paint thinner. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin. Expecting mothers should avoid exposure to toluene vapors as it may cause developmental damage in the fetus. Toluene has also been linked to immune system toxicity. It can be found in nail polish, nail treatments and hair color/bleaching products.
Propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent. It's classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. It has been associated with causing dermatitis as well as hives in humans -- these sensitization effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2 percent. It can be found in moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays.
Sunscreen chemicals/UV filters.These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the body. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. They can be found in sunscreen products. Several UV filters used in cosmetics may have hormone disrupting properties, including benzophenone, homosalate, and octinoxate. These chemicals are used in a variety of personal care products such as shampoos, sunscreens, lipstick, nail polish and skin creams.
PTFE/PFOA Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is used in some anti-aging products. PTFE may be contaminated with perfluorooactanoic acid (PFOA), a possible carcinogen. Exposure to these compounds is associated with delayed menstruation, later breast development and increased incidence of breast cancer.
Polyacrylamide/acrylamide Polyacrylamide is a stabilizer and binder in lotions and other products. Though it is not a concern in itself, it is made up of repeating molecules of acrylamide, which is a strongly suspected carcinogen linked to mammary tumors.
Styrene Residual styrene may be a contaminant in cosmetics with styrene-based ingredients. It is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen and a hormone disruptor. Styrene may also be toxic to red blood cells, the liver, and the central nervous system.
1,4-dioxane 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant formed in the manufacture of ingredients used as sudsing agents in shampoos, body wash, and children’s bath products. It is a reasonably anticipated carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Cadmium and other metals Cadmium is a known carcinogen and has estrogen-mimicking properties. It can be a contaminant in some color cosmetics and face paints marketed to kids.
Triclosan Triclosan is used to limit the growth of bacteria and mold in personal care products. The chemical, which is classified as a pesticide, can affect the body’s hormone systems—especially thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism—and may disrupt normal breast development.
Please love yourself 💚🌷