With the average woman using 12 different skincare or beauty products each day, it’s no surprise that we love our skincare products.
Unfortunately, many of the “miracle” creams and cleansers we put on our skin are actually doing more harm than good. Just take a look at the back of your everyday drugstore skincare product and you’re likely to find a long list of chemical ingredients and potentially toxic compounds.
So, what can we do to stay healthy while continuing to enjoy our daily skincare ritual?
Steering clear of toxic ingredients and opting for natural products is the safest route to a nontoxic skincare routine that will still leave you glowing.
Read on to find out what toxic ingredients could be lurking in your favorite skincare product and how to shop smarter.
Why Worry About Skincare Ingredients?
You are what you eat, right? Well, you are what you put on the outside of your body, too.
Our skin is one of our most important organs. Along with literally keeping us together, our skin protects us, keeps us hydrated, acts as a sensory organ, regulates our temperature, makes essential Vitamin D, and much more.
The skin’s job is also to absorb. This is helpful for when we need to up our hydration levels or are hoping to improve our skin health with antioxidants and nourishing serums.
But when we’re slathering on products packed with chemicals, absorption isn’t working in our favor. Chemical-laden products on the market today are FDA tested to ensure there are no immediate side effects, but they aren’t tested to determine long-term safety.
In a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, up to 64% of water contaminants were absorbed through the skin. Other studies suggest there is no way to tell precisely how much the skin absorbs – and what types of molecules pass through the various protective barriers. Still, scientists agree that some contaminants are likely to seep through your skin and enter your bloodstream.
The bottom line? What you put on your skin matters. Let’s make sure it’s as clean and natural as possible!
4 Common Toxic Skincare Ingredients to Ditch
Now is a great time to look at your current skincare products and see how they stack up. While there are hundreds of different types of cosmetic chemicals used on the market today, there are a few specific ones that are easy to spot. If you find any of the following ingredients in your skincare products, consider looking for a healthier alternative.
1. Sodium lauryl sulfate/ sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Look for: SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Sodium dodecyl sulfate.
Found in: lathering soaps, cleaners, shampoos, and other skincare products
Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant that breaks down oil and dirt and washes it away. It’s the ingredient that makes soaps ultra foamy, smooth, and luxurious.
But, SLS has a dark side. It is a known irritant that can cause skin and eye irritation, dryness, flaking, allergies, and redness. While it traps dirt and oils extremely well, it also strips your skin’s natural and helpful oils.
SLS may also have carcinogenic (cancer-causing) properties, but there isn’t enough research to know for sure.
Alternatives: There are plenty of other soaps that don’t irritate (such as liquid castile soap). Look for SLS-free products or try using a non-foaming product, like a cleansing conditioner or oil cleanser.
Look for: Phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP, fragrance.
Found in: most products with “fragrance,” makeup, perfumes, body wash, skincare.
Phthalates are found in plastics, solvents, and personal care products. They make cosmetics and skincare products soft and pliable, as well as add synthetic fragrance.
The primary health concern around phthalates is that they are endocrine disruptors. They throw hormones off balance, which can cascade into a range of various health conditions. Phthalates are associated with infertility, diabetes, ADHD, and cancer.
It isn’t always easy to spot phthalates on a product ingredient list. In most cases, however, the ingredient “fragrance” typically signals the use of phthalates.
Alternatives: Fragrance-free products are always the best choice if you have allergic or sensitive skin. If you want your skincare products to smell lovely naturally, look for those that use natural essential oils to perfume their products. Oftentimes, these essential oils have additional benefits that could improve your skin’s health even further.
Look for: ingredient names that include “-paraben,” “methyl-, ““ethyl-“
Found in: shampoo, conditioners, moisturizers, cleansers, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving gels, toothpaste, makeup.
Parabens are extremely common – so much so that studies have found traces of parabens are found in nearly all urine samples tested.
Companies use parabens to keep skincare products and cosmetics shelf-stable and prevent bacteria and mold growth. They’re perfect for the manufacturer; they’re cheap, effective, and easy to come by.
For consumers like us, however, parabens can disrupt hormones and cause reproductive health issues. Some link parabens to poor birth outcomes and cancer, one of the more common side effects is skin irritation.
Alternatives: While parabens are harmful, keeping your skincare products free from bacteria and mold is still essential. Thankfully, other antimicrobial ingredients are more natural and have fewer side effects. Look for products that use ingredients like phenoxyethanol, benzyl alcohol, or Sodium benzoate instead of parabens.
Look for: Oxybenzone, “benzophenone-3”, “BP-3”.
Found in: Sunscreens, skincare products
Oxybenzone is most commonly used in sunscreen but can be found in other skincare products as well. It acts as a stabilizer and helps to strengthen the color and scent of the product. In sunscreens, oxybenzone absorbs UV rays to protect the skin from sun damage.
Unfortunately, oxybenzone is also a known irritant that causes skin allergies, redness, and irritation. Furthermore, oxybenzone absorbs readily into the skin. With regular use, it accumulates in the body and may affect the endocrine system.
Alternatives: Instead of oxybenzone sunscreens, opt for a sunscreen that uses non-nano zinc oxide or non-nano titanium dioxide. These do just as good a job at protecting you against UV rays and sun damage.
What to Look for in Natural Skincare Products
Ready to replace conventional skincare products with safer alternatives? Here’s what to look for:
- Certification from groups like the Environmental Working Group Verified, USDA Organic, NSF/ANSI 305, or Made Safe.
- Natural plant oils like argan oil or neem oil.
- Essential oils like tea tree, geranium, and frankincense.
- Extracts from recognizable ingredients like green tea or pomegranate seed.
- Safe chemicals. Not all chemical-sounding ingredients are toxic. For instance, hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid sound like harmful chemicals, but they are generally safe for skin. When in doubt, do some research!
Make the Switch to Natural, Non-Toxic Skincare
At Wellnest Denver, we know you want to give your skin the care it deserves. We also know how difficult it can be to find products that are safe and effective.
That’s why we’ve done the research for you to find the best skincare products and treatments that offer natural, non-toxic solutions for any skin concern.
When you visit Wellnest Denver, we’ll spend time getting to know your skin’s needs and tendencies, as well as your overall state of health and unique body constitution. From there, we’ll help you create a skincare treatment plan with products that heal your skin – not hurt it.
Ready to discover the best natural skincare options for your skin? Book your Wellnest Denver Acupuncture visit today!