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4 Unbelievably Toxic Skin Care Ingredients That Damage Your Health

May 31, 2018/Ingredients to avoid/10 min. read
Home/Blog/Ingredients to avoid/4 Unbelievably Toxic Skin Care Ingredients That Damage Your Health
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Sadly, most skin care and cosmetic companies put profits ahead of consumers’ health and safety. Have you unknowingly been exposing your skin, hair, and nails to toxic chemicals? Read below to find out what toxic skin care chemicals you should avoid, and how to do it.

Why do companies use ingredients proven to damage our skin, bring unbalance to our hormones, and pollute Mother Earth?

Often, using artificial ingredients is an inexpensive shortcut. Companies make more money off of customers by putting cheap, easy-to-use chemicals in their products. Instead of taking the time to perform research and development to implement more natural or safe ingredients they opt-out for an easier way to make a buck.

Every time you buy a product you are casting a vote! Protect yourself and loved ones by using only natural-based and organic companies that do not contaminate their products with the following gunk.

1. Phthalates

hand sanitizer spray spraying hands spritz skin care

The FDA does not require phthalates to be listed as an ingredient on cosmetic labels, but these toxic compounds hide secretly in almost all “fragrance”. Fragrances are tricky because they are considered trade secrets. The FDA does not require companies to disclose the full ingredient list for trade secrets so fragrances can actually be harboring 100s of different chemicals.

Alarmingly, there are a lot of different types of phthalates. They are in medications, cosmetics, plastics of all kinds including water bottles, food-storage containers, and even toys.

What is its purpose?

Fragrance developers add phthalates to artificial fragrances to fix certain scents (make the scent stay) and to dissolve other ingredients into the fragrance.

They are added in plastics to prevent brittleness. The more flexible a plastic is, the more phthalates it contains.

Why you should ditch it

  • There is cause for concern that phthalates adversely affect human reproduction and development.
  • Via human studies, researchers associate phthalates with premature birth, a reduction in sperm mobility, and premature sexual development in human females.
  • Research has shown children born to mothers with high phthalate metabolites have a higher rate of behavior and mental ability issues including aggression, conduct, attention, depression, and emotional control.
  • Studies link allergies, eczema, asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, endometriosis, and breast cancer to phthalates.
  • Animal studies show phthalates reduce male fertility by lowering sperm count and altering the tissues of testes.
  • Studies have also found reason for concern that these chemicals may cause fetal mortality, malformation, and low birth weight.

According to this study by the federal ATSDR, phthalates applied to human skin do, in fact, absorb into the body. The same study proves phthalates leach out of plastic packaging into its contents.

How to avoid it

  • Only buy personal care products stating “phthalate free”, or “fragrance free”. Essential oils are safe!
  • Avoid nail polish.
  • Limit or completely avoid products packaged in plastic or made of plastic.
    • Opt for products packaged in glass or paper.
  • Switch out plastic wrap for an eco-friendly wrap like beeswax wrap.
  • Buy produce from a local farmers market. The more people handle produce, the more likely it will be contaminated with phthalates.
  • Do not buy plastic water bottles and stop drinking out of plastic cups! Invest in glass water bottles and cups.

2. Parabens

woman applying lip balm chapstick

You may hear differing viewpoints on this chemical, and even companies justifying use. The truth is parabens are cheap and effective. There has not been a scientific study to date proving they are 100% safe. It’s better to avoid parabens completely. More and more companies are removing this ingredient from their products.

What is its purpose?

Personal care products, medications, foods, and beverages contain parabens as a preservative to inhibit microbial growth.

Products that contain water or that may come into contact with water MUST include a preservative to be consumer-safe. However, there are safer, even naturally-derived preservative options, and ways to make products without water.

Why you should ditch it

  • Parabens may promote breast cancer. In vitro, parabens induce growth of breast cancer cells. In addition, researchers found parabens in breast cancer cells. To be unbiased, researchers have also found them in healthy, non-cancerous cells. Increased rates of breast cancer near the armpit has set off alarms that paraben laden deodorants may be the culprit.
  • Parabens increase estrogen levels and play a role in male infertility.
  • Parabens absorb into our bodies through skin contact.

The jury is still out on whether parabens are worth outlawing. It is best to avoid this ingredient for now. There are many alternative products without parabens, and increasingly more as people learn the possible dangers. Why use something with this potentially hazardous ingredient when there are many alternatives?

How to avoid it

  • Throw out and don’t buy any products if you see any ingredient with the suffix paraben on the label. (i.e. methylparaben, propylparaben, etc.)
  • Try to use only preservative-free products. If you can’t find a preservative-free option, try making it yourself as a one-time-use product.
  • Stick to organic products – a certified organic product is not allowed to include parabens!
  • CAUTION – just because a product says “paraben-free” does not mean it’s safe! Many companies have started to use worse preservatives in reaction to the uproar over parabens.

3. Other artificial preservatives

woman spraying her face with a clear plastic bottle mister

While the use of a product that has grown a dangerous bacteria, mold, or fungus can harm or even kill the consumer, there are ways to avoid preservatives and even a few that have been found to be safe.

There are many preservatives on the market that cause harm to our bodies. Here we focus on the most common culprits.

What is its purpose?

These inhibit microbial growth on products. Fungus, mold, and bacteria all love to grow and feed in products that contain water.

Why you should ditch it

  • Phenoxyethanol may be a neurotoxin when consumed. It is also a common skin irritant and allergen. It is generally regarded as safe and allowed in organic cosmetics, but I strongly suggest avoiding it in products that go near the mouth or other body cavities.
  • Triclosan is an anti-bacterial agent that has been linked to thyroid issues and skin cancer via animal studies. Plus, when exposed to UV rays this preservative breaks down into other potentially harmful chemicals on human skin.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) is not only a tongue twister but has raised concern that it causes brain damage via a study in which rats were exposed to MIT for a mere 10 minutes! It may also cause dermatitis, seizures, and visual abnormalities.
  • Ureas (dimethylol urea, diazolidinyl urea, etc.) are not only suspected to be genotoxic, but they also release formaldehyde, a carcinogen.

How to avoid it

  • Many liquid soap manufacturers water down the soap base so must add preservatives – use bar soap instead! (Our bar soap is actually moisturizing to your skin instead of drying… win-win!)
  • Opt for powdered or dry versions of beauty products like toothpaste powders or facial mask powders. Dry versions eliminate the need for toxic preservatives by eliminating water. With one simple step (add your own water before use) you’re significantly reducing your exposure to chemicals.
  • Instead of buying watered-down, poisonous lotions and moisturizers, use a plant-based oil that compliments your skin type. There is a perfect oil for everyone! If you have oily, acne-prone skin, make sure to find a non-comedogenic oil like argan or hemp seed. Aging, wrinkle-prone skin benefits from squalane, rosehip, and blueberry seed oils. Do your research and buy organic!

4. Synthetic dyes and colorants

People pouring colorful liquids tubes and beakers

They are in our foods, drinks, and cosmetics (FD&C) and go by many different names: FD&C, D&C, food coloring, lakes, CI, Blue #1, etc. If you see a color on the label or CI followed by a number or element like “aluminum”, it is one of these toxic dyes.

Botanicals and clays have been safely providing humans with natural dyes since the beginning of time. That’s exactly what Bee Kind Soapery uses to enrich products! Not only do natural colorants make products fun and beautiful, but most also contribute additional benefits. For example, turmeric makes a beautiful yellow dye while also contributing anti-inflammatory properties!

A note on micas and oxides – these are synthetic, but super safe colorants when used externally.

What is its purpose?

Product manufacturers utilize lab-made colorants to wow their users and help products visually stand out. A teeny-tiny amount is needed (they are economical) and they are usually easily incorporated into products.

Why you should ditch it

  • Labs make these colorants from coal tar, AKA petroleum. Petroleum products need their own separate blog post they are so toxic to humans!
  • They contain lead and arsenic and have been proven to cause cancer. The FDA allows use as long as it is under a certain percent. The problem is that most people use more than one product with artificial dyes on a daily basis.
  • Consuming these dyes has its own set of side effectshypersensitivity, genotoxicity, and cancer risk.

How to avoid it

  • Check your bath bombs, skin care, foods, drinks, and makeup for artificial dyes.
  • Scour the ingredient list on colorful items.
  • Limit your intake of processed food – cereals, sodas, even mac n’ cheese contain toxic dyes.
woman's face in bath with floating sliced citrus surrounding her

So remember… take care of your skin to take care of your health!

We will cover even more cosmetic ingredients in a future post. In the meantime, make sure to support companies like Bee Kind Botanics who use only safe synthetics and who utilize natural ingredients. We research extensively every ingredient we put into our products. If you have any questions or specific ingredients you’d like us to research make sure to leave a comment below.


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Comments (1)

  • frankie thurlkill / June 1, 2018 / Reply

    Very well written, easy to understand, thanks for the info.

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