Over the last decade or so, more and more people have been jumping on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon – or pursuing a “greener” and “cleaner” life. We fill our plates with nutritious foods, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly and some of us have even adopted a daily meditation ritual to help better our health and well-being. However, despite our best efforts, we could still be exposing ourselves to an insane amount of toxins on a daily basis. In fact, some researchers have even suggested that the average woman uses products that contain 168 chemical ingredients on a daily basis. Yeah, let that bit of information sink in for a minute.
How is this possible, you ask? Well, what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in our bodies. Our skin is not only the largest organ, it is a highly-absorbent one as well. The last thing I want to do is create fear in you of everyday products, but it is essential that we all pay special attention to the ingredient listings on the back of our skincare, haircare, hygiene and beauty products.
Before heading to checkout – whether it’s online or in-store – make sure you don’t see any of the following toxic ingredients included in your products:
Usually listed as Sodium Laureth (or Lauryl) Sulfate (SLS) or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS), this toxic ingredient is one that you should really look out for. Why? Because its only purpose for being included in your shampoos, body washes and facial cleansers is to create a foamy, frothy lather. Seriously, that is its only purpose. Don’t let any shady advertising fool you – even though sulfates are derived from coconuts, these bad boys are far from safe or natural. Not only will they strip your hair and skin of their natural oils, they are frequently laced with 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide, the former being a known human carcinogen and the latter being a possible human carcinogen. Let’s just err on the side of caution and avoid sulfates at all costs.
Oh man, this one is a biggie. You have probably heard about the dangers that parabens can cause to the human body, but in case you haven’t, allow me to enlighten you. There have been multiple studies that link parabens to cancer – more specifically breast cancer. Just take a look at this study in which they found an unnerving amount of parabens in human breast tissue in the group that used deodorant containing parabens. Unfortunately, staying away from parabens isn’t as simple as you think since they are included in a bevy of everyday products like deodorants, skincare products, haircare products, makeup – this list goes on. So, please check those labels and research healthier alternatives.
Okay, this is a tough one because phthalates are used in so many things. Phthalates are mainly used to make things softer and more flexible, which is why you can find them plastics, furniture, toys, cosmetics and even food. Yep. You read that correctly. One study even found that there were high concentrations of phthalates in dairy, meats and oils – just to name a few. Phthalates, whether applied topically or ingested, can lead to fertility and motility problems, not mention that they can cause irreversible damage to sperm DNA. It’s especially important to avoid these toxic molecules during pregnancy because prenatal exposure has been linked to behavioral disorders such as aggression, depression, and ADD. Oh, and if I haven’t scared you enough, phthalates can also increase your risk of developing cancer, endometriosis, asthma and eczema and can cause obesity. In cosmetics and skincare products, they disguise themselves as a molecule that’s attached to a synthetic fragrance. However, not all fragrances are bad; bioidentical fragrances are more natural, hypoallergenic alternatives that mimic essential oils. The moral of this story? Research the beauty products you use on a daily basis.
Beware of this toxic ingredient because it disguises itself under a few different names, including white oil, liquid paraffin and liquid petroleum. Other than the fact that applying mineral oil literally does NOTHING for your skin (you read that correctly), it can also aggravate chronic skin conditions like acne, dermatitis and eczema. It also negatively affects skin function which can lead to premature aging. Mineral oil is unable to penetrate the skin and instead creates a shiny film, which is why your mom has probably suggested using it as a tanning oil (seriously, don’t do that). Your skin is your largest organ and it works synergistically with your liver and kidneys to detoxify your body. When your skin can’t breathe, it certainly cannot aid in the detoxification process. If the reasons listed above can’t convince you to say goodbye to mineral oil, maybe this will: the use of petroleum products increase your risk of developing cancer. Petroleum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),which have a strong link to cancer development. Can we also agree that the use of petroleum has an extremely negative impact on the Earth? The fact that its production significantly contributes to pollution and the release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere should be enough to convince us to stop using these products.
The scary facts above are the exact reasons why we don’t include any of these toxic ingredients in our skincare products. We care about you, your family and Mother earth. We should also mention that we care equally for animals and NEVER test our products on them. Let’s keep our bodies and our planet clean, y’all!
Denise Prichard has been an avid beauty, health and nutrition writer for over five years - specializing in wellness, skincare, yoga & meditation, and clean eating recipes. She graduated with a degree in English from Arizona State University in 2010 and currently runs her own blog, Fueled by Vegetables, a project that stems from her passion of living a healthy, joyful life and encouraging others to do the same. She believes that beauty comes from within and can be achieved through a health driven lifestyle. Denise practices what she preaches as she is a certified yoga instructor and enjoys sharing her love of yoga with others, blogging about beauty & skincare tips (she is the skincare model for her company’s brand videos), inventing yummy and nutritious recipes and of course hanging out with her rescue dogs, Eleanor & Stevie.