We occasionally discuss makeup application tips but almost never think about the ingredients found in them. Well, as we have heard before, what we put into our bodies will reflect on our skin. This same rule applies to the ingredients that are used to create the makeup we apply to our beloved skin.
In her book Ecoholic, Adria Vasil’s national bestseller on the most environmentally friendly information, products and services in Canada, Vasil listed ten beauty product ingredients to steer clear of in order to protect one’s personal health and safety. I thought that it would be a good idea to list these key ingredients that can actually be detrimental to the skin.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) is a suspected carcinogen commonly found in shampoos, body wash and makeup. Watch out for DEA contamination of other ingredients including Cocaminde DEA, MEA, and TEA.
- Formaldehyde is rarely printed on ingredient lists, but this known carcinogen – which can evaporate into the air when the product is wet – is found in DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15.
- Parabens are a family of chemicals which have been found to be estrogenic , which means that they mimic estrogen or female hormones. Parabens have been found in breast cancer tumor samples, and have been shown by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have endocrine-disrupting effects. Look for the word “paraben” or any other word with the suffix “-paraben”, including methylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, etc.
- Petrolatum is derived from a non-renewable crude oil, which is not advisable to breathe, so slathering this on your skin is akin to “tanking up at the pump,” as Vasil puts it. Mineral oil is also petroleum-based.
- Phenyledediamine (PPD) is found in all permanent hair dyes, especially darker shades, and has been linked to bladder cancer in long-term frequent users. PPD also called P-diaminobenzene.
- Phthalates are a family of hormone disrupting chemicals often guised as the ingredient “fragrance”.
- Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate (SLS) are skin irritants that can cause skin dryness and are suspected by many organizations (including the EWD) of causing cancer, despite studies which have let these chemicals off the hook by groups such as the Cosmetics Industry Review (CIR).
- Talc is a powder which may be contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos; these samples are recognized as carcinogenic. Talc is used in everything from blush to baby powder despite unsuccessful motions by the US Department of Health’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) to have all talc categorized as a probable carcinogen.
- Toluene is a solvent used in nail polishes that causes damage to the nervous system, liver and kidneys with long term exposure.
- Triclosan is the most common active ingredient in “antibacterial” liquid hand soaps, and is also found in toothpastes, deodorants, face and body washes, and acne treatments, among others (EWG 2008). The toxin is also found in an increasing number of everyday items, such as dishwashing detergent, kitchen tools, toys, trash bags, bedding, bathmats, socks, and footwear, contaminates household dust (Canosa 2007), and is accumulating in rivers and sewage sludge where it can convert into carcinogenic dioxins when exposed to sunlight in water. Triclosan builds up in fat and can amass in the bodies of people and animals over time, has been associated with thyroid dysfunction, may have androgenic and estrogenic hormone-disrupting effects, and can react with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform.