It’s hard enough pronouncing skincare ingredients, let alone understanding what they all mean. But in the Wild Wild West of chemical products it’s worth the effort to learn what we’re putting on our skin, not to mention our children’s.
Today we’ll focus on common beauty ingredients, give you the skinny on what they’re used for, and talk about the hazards that make us cringe. So in the spirit of Halloween, here are five skincare products that are more frightening than Stephen King’s It, and why on earth to avoid them!
Aluminum is commonly found in deodorant and antiperspirant. While deodorant is considered a scent cover up and antiperspirant stops sweat in its tracks – both products can contain this ingredient. The problem? Too many studies are giving aluminum bad press, causing consumers to reach for the natural stuff.
Eyebrows rose as studies discovered aluminum in malignant breast tissue. While the Breast Cancer Foundation claims aluminum has not been linked to cancer, many health professionals warn against it. According to Wikipedia, aluminum deodorant can be harmful to people with kidney disease and the FDA suggests consulting a doctor before use. That’s right, just for antiperspirant.
Also be on the lookout for aluminum in makeup – it’s often used as a coloring and thickening agent. This ingredient is not only worth mentioning, we wrote a whole blog on the topic.
Parabens are another suspicious ingredient that also falls under the alias of methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or ethylparaben.
It’s likely you come in contact with this low-cost preservative daily. Used to kill bacteria and prevent mold growth, they’re commonly found in skincare products, hair care, toothpastes, deodorants, makeup and even our food. They’re also known to hide in fragrances (more on this in a moment).
To confuse you further, skin experts agree this ingredient is dangerous if it enters the blood stream, but they claim it can’t penetrate deep enough into the skin’s layers to get there. The good news is, more and more paraben-free products are hitting the shelves so you can make an educated, conscious choice.
That perfume that makes you feel mysterious is a bigger mystery in itself. The word fragrance is not one ingredient - it’s a word that represents a blend of ingredients. Thanks to Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 701.3(a)) fragrance is considered to be a trade secret so the ingredients aren’t required to be listed. According to the EWG, “The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label.”
Unfortunately, we have to make assumptions about what’s in these good smelling bottles, and if we’re willing to take a risk. Fragrance is best replaced with essential oils – for anything you inhale or put on your skin (so… everything). Truly’s offers some deliciously scented essential oil candles, and also uses essential oils in deodorant, soaps, and lip balm . Want more information on the topic? You guessed it. We wrote a blog about that one too.
Most commonly found in sunscreen to absorb UV light, oxybenzone has been a red flag for toxicology experts. According to the EWG, Oxybenzone “has been linked to hormone disruption and has the potential to damage cells that may lead to skin cancer.”
But it doesn’t stop at sunscreen, oxybenzone is also used in nail polish, hair spray, hair dyes, perfumes (told ya so) shampoos and plastics. And in 2014 Benzophenones was named Allergen of the Year. Um… Congratulations?
Resorcinol is a powerful chemical used for everything from acne peels and hair color to adhesives and tire production. While we put it on our faces, it’s a byproduct of coal manufacturing.
This product is restricted in Japan, the EU has set limitations with warning labels, and the US regulates exposure in certain manufacturing environments (non beauty related) yet we’re still putting it in our hair and on our skin. No surprise that the EWG has ranked this puppy a high chemical hazard.
These ingredients can be heated topics and controversial among experts, so there’s no doubt the rest of us are left feeling unsure of what to buy. So because there’s no black and white and we’re left with an overwhelming amount of grey, it’s up to us to stay on top of the most recent developments and become aware of the risks involved. That’ll make things a lot less scary this Halloween.