Updated: Jun 28, 2019
Ignorance is a bliss. I am guilty of it too and by NO means do I have a perfect toxic free beauty routine. I have to be honest though, you will be shocked to learn how many harmful ingredients are in makeup and skincare products. The average adult uses 9 personal care products each day, with 126 unique chemical ingredients. An average woman uses 12 products with more than 168 chemicals in them every morning. Now it might be easy for some people who use without reading labels, and that’s okay, because that product makes them look good and nice, but research has shown that some of these chemical ingredients in the make-up are hormone disruptors, which throw our hormones out of balance and trigger a variety of side effects.
How Hormone Disruptors Work
Endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things. It includes our thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, pancreas, hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with endocrine (or hormone) systems at certain doses. These include substances in our environment, water, food and personal care products that interfere with the production, transport, breakdown, binding and elimination of hormones.
These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, other developmental disorders, health issues like hypothyroid, infertility, adrenal imbalances, estrogen dominance, lowered sperm counts and weight gain, obesity, diabetes. This can also affect the skin, the bodies largest organ.
Skin Care Ingredients You Need to Avoid
Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen and irritant found in nail products, hair dye, fake-eyelash adhesives and some shampoos, is used as a preservative in cosmetics. It is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity, so it has been banned in some countries but not all.
Artificial Fragrance/Parfum: Most traditional skincare and cosmetic products contain artificial fragrances, even those whose labels read “unscented”. Manufacturers don’t show what’s actually in their fragrances, so one simply sees “Fragrance or Parfum” on the back of the product, and it could actually be a concoction of irritants, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens and allergens. Fragrance is also connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma and allergies. One should use products with natural fragrances only.
Lead: A known carcinogen and hormone disruptor found in certain eyeliners, hair dye and color cosmetics including powders and lipsticks, lead, is linked to miscarriages, disruption of the nervous system, brain damage, infertility, and hypertension (to name a few).
Mercury: Illegal, imported skin lighteners mostly contain mercury, which can poison adults and children and is especially very toxic during pregnancy. Mercury is a known irritant and allergen that accumulates in body over time, and can impair the brain and nervous system. Avoid buying products with ingredients clearly labeled with “mercury,” “calomel”, “mercurio” or “mercurio chloride.”
Parabens (Methyl-, Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl- and Isobutyl-):
Parabens are preservatives found many products from soap to lotion to makeup. A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2004 discussed parabens and their estrogen-like properties, meaning that they mimicked estrogen in the body and lead to hormonal imbalances, and possibly even breast cancer. The researchers found concentrations of parabens (methylparaben specifically), in human breast tumors. If “paraben” is in the ingredient list, avoid it.
Oxybenzone: Sunscreens come in two different forms: chemical filters and mineral ones. In chemical sunscreens, an active ingredient called oxybenzone accumulates in fatty tissues and is linked to skin allergies, hormone disruption (alters thyroid function) and cellular damage. Oxybenzone can also be found in moisturizers, lip balm, and makeup. Instead of using sunscreens, we recommend wearing skin-protective clothing and using natural minerals or zinc products.
DEA/TEA/MEA (Ethanolamines): These are used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in bubble bath, body washes, soaps, shampoos and for topical application. DEA is a known carcinogen and respiratory toxin, which is why the EU has restricted its use in personal care products. Despite this, it’s still used in the US. It has also been associated with cancer in animal studies.
Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES): A former industrial degreaser now used as a foaming agent in personal care products (skincare and cosmetics), shampoo and toothpaste. These are surfactants which cause skin irritation or trigger allergies in some people, when absorbed in the body. “Nitrosamines” are common by-products of the sulphation process of SLS and SLES, and 90% of nitrosamines are believed to be carcinogenic.
Diethylene glycol (or DEG) or Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): PEG is often contaminated with both ethylene oxide (a known carcinogen) and 1,4-Dio