What should you avoid?
Be Aware & Read the Label
A lathering agent in soaps and shampoos, DEA isn’t carcinogenic by itself, but can react with other chemicals in products to create a carcinogen readily absorbed into the skin. Look for DEA in many forms, such as Cocamide DEA, Oleamide DEA and Lauramide DEA.
A frighteningly common ingredient in a variety of beauty products. Formaldehyde can irritate your eyes, nose and throat, dry out and irritate your skin and even cause asthma and cancer with repeated exposure.
Parabens, in their many forms (methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben) have been linked to breast cancer and have been noted as hormone disruptors. The FDA claims that parabens aren’t dangerous at low levels, but when you consider that 25,000 different cosmetics and skincare products contain these chemicals, it’s feasible to build up quite an exposure in a lifetime.
An ingredient used in hair dyes (including eyelash dye.) The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has run studies that show a higher incidence of cancer among hairdressers & aestheticians; they have the highest PPD exposure. Although PPD is not approved for products that come in contact with the skin, hair dye usually gets on your forehead or ears for up to 30 minutes. Why take the risk?
Because of an FDA loophole, cosmetic companies can hide a whole slew of chemicals, many of which are phthalates, under the label “fragrance.” Avoid this ingredient like the plague.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL - (PG):
Is a colourless, nearly odourless, syrupy liquid that is derived from natural gas. It is used in dozens of products that you commonly use around your house. Some websites and natural product promoters argue that PG is a nasty, carcinogenic chemical that has been wrongly green lighted by the FDA. The FDA, and others, say that their claims are completely unfounded - that PG is completely safe when used properly. It has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema. When you see PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol) on labels, beware, these are related synthetics.
The subject of much controversy because of hormone-disrupting- phthalates being found in plastic baby bottles and teethers, let’s not forget that they’re a common ingredient in cosmetics, too.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) AND SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES):
An inexpensive, harsh detergent used in many products for its cleansing and foam-building properties. Often derived from petroleum, it is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the phrase “derived from coconuts.” SLS and SLES are skin irritants and can enter the heart, brain and liver through the skin and accumulate in these organs. It dries out your skin, is not recommended for sensitive skin and causes eye irritation, scalp, dandruff, skin rashes.
Found in nail polish and hair dye, this is a nasty one. Toluene is toxic to the nervous system, and breathing it in can cause dizziness and headaches. High exposures can lead to birth defects and miscarriage. Look for toulune-free brands of nail polish instead.
A skin-bleaching ingredient, hydroquinone is banned in Japan, the European Union, and Australia, but it’s still in use in North America and other countries worldwide. Hydroquinone is found not only in skin-lightening products, but in creams to lighten age-spots as well. There’s some evidence that hydroquinone is a carcinogen, and is linked to ochnronosis, a condition in which gray-ish brown spots and bumps occur on the skin.
Also known as petroleum jelly, this mineral oil derivative is used for its emollient properties in cosmetics. It has no nutrient value for the skin and can interfere with the body’s own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dryness and chapping. It often creates the very conditions it claims to alleviate. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap. Also found in baby oil!
TEA is used to balance PH and is a common ingredient in “gentle” cosmetic products, but unfortunately it’s been known to cause allergic reactions, is an eye irritant and can cause dry hair and skin. With consistent use, TEA is absorbed into the body and accumulates, where it can become toxic.
A common ingredient in antiperspirants, aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's Disease.
Talc is a soft mineral used in talcum powders and cosmetic powders. Scientific studies have shown that routine application of talcum powder to the genital area is linked with a three-to-fourfold increase in the development of ovarian cancer. Inhaling cosmetic powders containing talc may also be harmful to long term health.