Did you know that there are many commonly used chemicals in foods, skincare and makeup products, and storage and clothing items that have been connected with hormone disruption, cancers, and even autoimmune disease?
The most troubling of these chemicals are allowed to infiltrate many products with very little to no regulation.
The place where this is most serious? Your skincare and makeup. (Shop for safer skincare and makeup products here.)
While we can easily swap glass containers (like these) for plastic and buy organic veggies instead of conventional, it is not easy to navigate avoiding hormone disrupting chemicals in the most common products we use on our skin every day.
Did you know that the skin is both an organ of detox and an organ of absorption?
We don’t just sweat through our skin, we can also absorb the things that we put on our skin. If we are using unsafe products, especially cumulatively on a regular basis, we place ourselves at risk for a toxic overload.
As a nutritionist, my focus has always been on food first, but the dangerously subtle nature of hormone imbalances and hormone-related cancers, as well as new research on the nature of obesity, have convinced me that food is not the only issue. While I argue that it is still the single most important issue to ensuring overall health and longevity, the products we use on a regular basis play an extremely important role in our health as well.
A large portion of my clientele struggle with hormone issues and autoimmune disease, two types of conditions that are impacted not only by nutrition, but by environmental issues. I wanted to find resources to refer these clients to so that they could find everything they needed in one place, a company that I vetted and felt I could trust, and something that I used personally.
As I searched for these resources, I stumbled upon Beautycounter’s Never List, a list of toxic ingredients found in the most common skincare and makeup products.
I’ve since begun to pass this list out to people and been surprised at the many, many items that contain them. Here are just a few of the most common and dangerous chemicals found in common products:
A disinfectant used as a preservative and surfactant
associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation
and allergies. Found in: sunscreens, moisturizers.
BHA AND BHT
Synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are
likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and may cause
liver damage. Found in: lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper
creams, and other cosmetics.
COAL TAR HAIR DYES AND OTHER COAL TAR
Byproduct of coal processing that is a known carcinogen.
It is used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent. Found
in: hair dye, shampoo.
ETHYLENEDIAMINETETRAACETIC ACID (EDTA)
A chelating (binding) agent added to cosmetics to improve
stability. May be toxic to organs. Found in: hair color,
Surfactants and pH adjuster linked to allergies, skin
toxicity, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain
development. Found in: hair dyes, mascara, foundation,
fragrances, sunscreens, dry cleaning solvents, paint,
Used as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen
that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and
developmental toxicity. Present where quaternium-15,
DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl
urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-
nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), and several other
preservatives are listed. Found in: shampoo, body wash,
A skin-lightening chemical that inhibits the production of
melanin and is linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin
irritation. Found in: skin-lightening creams.
Chemical preservatives that are among the most common
irritants, sensitizers, and causes of contact skin allergies.
Found in: shampoo, conditioner, body wash.
Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber linked to
irritation, sensitization and allergies, and possible hormone
disruption. Found in: sunscreen, moisturizer.
PARABENS (METHYL-, ISOBUTYL-, PROPYL- AND
A class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the
growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or
hormone) disruptors, which may alter important hormone
mechanisms in our bodies. Found in: shampoo, face
cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation.
PHTHALATES (DBP, DEHP, DEP AND OTHERS)
A class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products
more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates
disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects.
Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray, and
POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL (PEG COMPOUNDS)
PEGs are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners,
solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. Depending on
manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with
measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane,
which are both carcinogens. Found in: creams, sunscreen,
RETINYL PALMITATE AND RETINOL (VITAMIN A)
A nutrient that may damage DNA and speed the growth of
skin tumors when used topically. Found in: moisturizer,
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE AND SODIUM LAURETH
SULFATE (SLS AND SLES)
SLS and SLES are surfactants that can cause skin irritation
or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with
1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called
ethoxylation, which is used to process other chemicals in
order to make them less harsh. Found in: shampoo, body
wash, bubble bath.
SYNTHETIC FLAVOR OR FRAGRANCE
An engineered scent or flavoring agent that may contain
any combination of 3,000-plus stock chemical ingredients,
including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance
formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of
trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed. Found
in: all types of cosmetics.
A volatile petrochemical solvent that is toxic to the immune
system and can cause birth defects. Found in: nail polish.
TRICLOSAN AND TRICLOCARBAN
Antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment;
may also impact human reproductive systems. Found in:
liquid soap, soap bars, toothpaste.
While the European Union bans over 1400 ingredients from skincare and makeup products, the United States bans only a handful. We also haven’t passed legislation on the safety of these products since the 1930’s. Beautycounter, on the other hand, bans more than 1500 ingredients.
I recommend switching your current products for safer versions, starting with the items you most often use. For me, that meant lotion, foundation, and shampoo. I then moved on to switching the rest of the skincare and makeup.
To do that, you must find a company you can trust. I have researched several companies and products before finally settling on Beautycounter to recommend to my clients.
I’ve used their products for almost a year and have been thoroughly impressed not just with their cleanliness but with their company-wide transparency. Every ingredient is clearly stated, sustainably sourced, and they maintain high standards of sampling to ensure the safety of their products. The quality of their skincare and makeup is also extremely high. I have been more than impressed with them.
Beautycounter has everything in one place- makeup, skincare, and haircare. This makes it easy to start switching to safer products.
For more information about what is right for you, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org