Do you know the price your health might be paying for you to look good? Set things right by booting these toxins from your beauty routine.
1. Mineral Oil. Sounds natural, doesn’t it? Healthy, even. This misnomer of an ingredient is actually a petroleum by-product and is a catchall name for many different products (with varying degrees of health risks). If you see it, take the safe route and avoid it because some of the products under this umbrella are carcinogens. Be on the lookout for it in baby oil and other baby products, moisturizers and soaps.
2. Polyethylene Glycol. Avoid any and all PEG ingredients in your cosmetics as this synthetic chemical has been found to increase the risk of cancer and damage to the nervous system. You might see it listed in long form or as PEG followed by a number. It’s used by cosmetics and beauty product manufacturers because it accelerates skin penetration which is another reason to avoid it – it’s helping any other harmful ingredients get into your system.
3. SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) & SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate). These baddies are responsible for all of that lovely lather you love. Unfortunately, they can cause endocrine and neuro disruptions, organ toxicity, skin and eye irritations and are potential carcinogens. Plus, they do nasty things to fish and wildlife. Straight up; these should be avoided but it’s not going to be easy. You’ll find it listed on some of your favourite ‘green’ products, even ones with claims like ‘natural’ ‘organic’ and ‘eco’. We’ll just apologize right now for how you’re going to feel when you look at those bottles in your bathroom. We feel your pain. We’ve been there.
4. DEA (Diethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine) & MEA (Monoethanolamine). They may only have three letters but these culprits are incredibly insidious. You might find them listed (along with various extensions) in your mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, blush and a myriad of lotions and cream-based products. What makes these chemicals so dangerous is that your body has a hard time getting rid of them because they bio-accumulate and have been suspected to cause organ toxicity and cancer (specifically of the liver). They’re dangerous enough for the European Commission to prohibit them, but they can still be found in North American products.
5. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) & BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). Despite being banned in the EU and landing on most country’s environmental watchdog lists as health risks (including Canada), these two compounds are still prevalent in many lipsticks and eyeshadows. Studies have found this substance to alter normal hormone levels, cause reproductive organ toxicity and cellular damage and have been identified as a possible human carcinogen. If your lipstick lists this ingredient, it may be time to give it the kiss off.
Bonus Reminder: Fragrance or Parfum. All that stuff that makes your make-up smell pretty can be ugly for your health. The terms ‘parfum’ and ‘fragrance’ could be any number of chemical combinations most of which pose a threat to your reproductive health, hormonal function, can cause allergies and asthma and even increase your chances of obesity. This sneaky ingredient may even show up on naturally scented beauty products or ‘fragrance-free’ items so don’t take the label at its word; read the ingredient list!
Sadly this list is only the tip of the pretty toxic iceberg. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and envisioning hours spent at the drugstore trying to read the tiniest of print, fear not. We were ecstatic to discover the (free!) Skin Deep app from the Environmental Working Group. Download, scan and discover how ugly a beauty product is before you purchase!