Why I Avoid These 6 Toxic Ingredients and You Should Too

I support clean beauty. I believe that everyone should be able to use products free from potentially harmful ingredients. In order for this to happen the relationship between the manufacturer, the consumer and legislation needs to improve.  To start changes in legislation that require manufacturers and brands to be transparent with ingredients may lead many to choose better options. Secondly, consumers need to become more educated regarding products and ingredients and demand better options from these companies and brands.  This is why I strive to provide education regarding skin health and ingredients in personal care products.

When you understand how an ingredient works and if it’s something you want to place on your body you can make better choices for your health. Putting into action what you know and actively working to decrease products that negatively impact health can be hard. I am not perfect and I have a long way to go when it comes to completely transition to the holistic lifestyle that I desire. It’s a process and a journey that I’m proud to be a part of and want to encourage you to explore. Today I want to share with you some of the ingredients that I am actively cutting out of my lifestyle. This can provide some insight for you as to how you can improve your approach to holistic beauty and wellness. While also guiding you on how you can make healthier choices for your health and wellness.

Why I Avoid Certain Ingredients

The driving factor that leads me to limit or omit certain ingredients involves it’s long term effects on my health. Endocrine disruption is a key concern of mine. This is due to my reproductive health issues and infertility struggles. Decreasing my interaction with ingredients that contribute to hormone imbalance is important to me. Ingredients linked to cancer development are also red flags. Outside of common chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes cancer is one of the top health complications within my family. Breast cancer is an issue that has affected women on both sides of my family. Needless to say, I take cancer claims quite personally. This has led me to be extra cautious with what I use and how it may increase my risk of cancer in the future.

Finally, when ingredients cause allergies or sensitivities I have to discontinue using those items. While my skin itself isn’t reactive or sensitive, due to the inflammatory nature of my chronic illness I have to be careful with what I use and how it affects me. Certain ingredients I have used in the past contributed to eczema flare-ups, scalp allergies, and sinus/allergy issues.

Let’s talk about some of the ingredients that I decrease and omit. You might learn that it could be beneficial for your health and wellness to decrease these ingredients as well.

 

Parabens

Personal care products, cosmetics, and household products use parabens as a preservative. They allow manufacturers to extend the shelf life of a product and help maintain it’s stability for an extended period of time. Basically, parabens prevent the growth of mold, bacteria, fungus and other unfriendly nasties from growing in your products. Despite the benefits of parabens, there are questions regarding their safety.  There have been studies that link parabens to contributing to the development of cancer. A UK study conducted in 2004 found the presence of parabens in 19 samples of breast tumor tissue. (1) Researchers could not explain the presence of parabens in the breast tumor tissue. When it comes to obtaining answers regarding the finding in this study more research needs to be done.

When it comes to decreasing your exposure to parabens it’s best to start with your personal care products and cosmetics. Understand ingredients and keep in mind what you need to look out for. Phase out products that contain methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben, and benzylparaben. There are a variety of natural and organic products that contain natural preservatives in place of parabens. Using resources such as the Environmental Working Group, and apps such as Think Dirty can help introduce you to better options. As you progress to paraben-free cosmetics and personal care products you can aim to do the same with your household products and foods in your pantry.

Formaldehyde Releasers

Quaternium-15, DMDM, bronopol, hydroxymethylgliconate are examples of formaldehyde releasers. You can find them in personal care and household products. To improve the thickness and consistency of your product formaldehyde-releasing ingredients can be used.  Similar to parabens they can provide preservative properties and also act as an antimicrobial. And they also have surfactant-like properties which improve their ability to cleanse and remove dirt.

You can find this ingredient in body wash, soap, shampoo, nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, and color cosmetics. The issue with this ingredient is that when it comes into contact with the air it has the ability to release small amounts of formaldehyde. When you consider how many products you are applying to your body on any given day the amount of exposure you receive begins to add up. A 2009 study linked formaldehyde to leukemia for those that work with products that contain formaldehyde releasers. It may also pose as an allergy for those that have decreased immunity, pre-existing conditions, or skin sensitivities. (2)

This might be tricker ingredient for you to remove due to the fact it’s in a variety of personal care products. Taking that first step and focusing on personal care products and cosmetics is beneficial. You can look up products on the EWG to learn more about what products are verified to be free of this ingredient. Phasing out your current products and paying attention to how you feel when using the product is also helpful feedback.

 

Phthalates

Phthalates are made up of esters of phthalic acid and are primarily used to increase the flexibility, transparency, and longevity of a product. When used in cosmetics they aid in the performance and longevity of the product.

You can find phthalates in almost everything from raincoats to the plastic lining in your automobile. They are also a popular ingredient for shampoo, soap, hair spray, perfumes, and nail polish. Little is known about how phthalates can affect your health and cause complications. Common issues associated with prolonged exposure to phthalates are endocrine disruption, human reproduction, and development problems. They have also been linked to issues with cancer development.

Eliminating these products from your everyday use can be a little challenging at first. Take your time and focus on limiting personal care and household products that contain this ingredient is a great place to start. Read the ingredient labels and educate yourself on the different forms of phthalates. For instance, if a product has diethylhexyl phthalate or dibutyl phthalate avoid use and opt for another product.

Synthetic Fragrance

There is something lovely about a scent that stimulates positive memories and happiness. There is inherently nothing wrong with wanting to create a nice ambiance in the home. If you are managing allergies or sensitivities you will want to make sure you use appropriate products that don’t irritate or cause issues. This is when choosing which products you use and understanding what ingredients they contain becomes important. When a product contains synthetic fragrance there is an increased risk that it may contribute to allergies or sensitivities.

The cause of this reaction could be due to how synthetic fragrance is produced and manufactured.  Synthetic ingredients make up the majority of the ingredients found in synthetic fragrance. These ingredients are created in a laboratory with the use of petroleum-based materials and in some instances, natural fragrance oils are used.  When this happens the natural fragrance oil is chemically modified and altered to create the desired scent or effect within the product.

The main issue with synthetic fragrance being used in personal care products and cosmetics is the fact that they can contribute to hormone disruption, and contribute to respiratory allergies. While the choice to eliminate synthetic fragrance is simple it can quickly become complicated when you realize just how many products on the market contain fragrance or some type of fragrance blend. Another disturbing factor is the fact that manufacturers can elect to not list all the ingredients used within these “fragrance blends” due to their right to protect trade secrets.

Proprietary fragrance blends can contain synthetic ingredients such as phthalates and petroleum. If you think that “natural” “clean” or “organic” products are any better then think again. These products may not use synthetic fragrance but they do contain “essential oil blends” and once again there is no clear transparency regarding what that blend contains. Also, regardless of whether a fragrance is synthetic, or naturally derived if you have allergies or asthma you may still find the fragrance of any type an issue.

Limiting or eliminating fragrance will be individual and based upon each person’s tolerance and unique health situation. For those that are in generally good health limit synthetic fragrance use. Or opt to use more natural fragrance or essential oils. This can prove to be beneficial and healthy. For those with severe allergies or hormonal imbalance phasing out fragrance may be best to improve and manage symptoms.

 

BPA

Bisphenol A is a chemical that was created and used in various plastic products. Common products that may contain BPA are plastic food storage containers, water bottles, bottled beverages, and food packages. BPA has been linked with endocrine disruption since it has the ability to mimic estrogen within the body. In addition to mimicking hormones within the body, BPA can also interfere with the production, secretion, transportation, function, and elimination of natural hormones.

Eliminating products that contain BPA and switching to BPA free products is a good first step. An even better option is to switch to glass products. Either way can be beneficial for those that are dealing with hormonal imbalances such as estrogen dominance, perimenopause, or menopause.

 

Thinking of Going Clean?

When it comes to making the decision to transition to a more “clean” or green approach to your cosmetic and personal care products there are a few things you should consider. First, you should focus on your own health and well-being. Are there specific needs that you need to address or are you of generally sound health. Having specific health issues or conditions will dictate what products and ingredients you will want to stay away from. If you’re starting from generally sound health you can take your time transitioning to a more green approach to your health and beauty regimen.

 

In either case, taking the time to research products and understand ingredients will be beneficial. Experimenting with different brands and taking the time to find new favorites. Remembering that this is a process and it will take time. You don’t have to rush and accomplish it all at once. In order for these changes to be sustainable and permanent, transition slowly over a period of time. There is no rush or race just take it one step at a time and seek to be a little bit better than you were yesterday.

 

About the Author

Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I am an Esthetician, Lifestyle Wellness Coach, and Writer. My intention is to provide you with education and awareness about women’s health, nutrition, fitness, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. I primarily help women that are seeking holistic and natural solutions to managing their chronic condition, improving their lifestyle and combating anti-aging concerns. I offer coaching programs and courses that are designed to help you redefine your health and defy aging.  You can find my content on a variety of social media platforms such as  YouTube,Facebook, and Instagram.

If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!