“If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.”
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body? Your skin absorbs at least 60% of what you slather on it and gets absorbed right into your bloodstream. Commercial store shelves are filled with toxic products including beauty products. Even many “healthy” people don’t realize what they are putting on their skin. Up to 95% of diseases are preventable (NIH) and they are preventable through lifestyle. What you put in your mouth (cigarettes, gum/mints, alcohol, Rx & OTC drugs, artificial ingredients) and what you put on your skin is directly related to either sickness or health. Sadly, many people don't bother to read the ingredients on non-edible products and don’t realize they are putting carcinogens right on their skin.
Wellness and healthy living is not exclusive to just one thing. Wellness is many holistic things: drinking pure, filtered water (not from a plastic bottle), fitness, eating organic food, supporting local organic farmers, massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture and using non-toxic skin care products. Here are the top 12 ingredients to look out for when buying beauty products i.e. shampoo, conditioner, face cleanser, lotion, cosmetics, toothpaste, mouthwash, lip balms/chapstick, baby products, body butter, perfumes, deodorants to name a few.
Benzoyl Peroxide Commonly found in acne products, MSDS reports that it is a possible tumor promoter. It can also act as a mutagen, produces DNA in human cells. It’s also toxic by inhalation. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant.
FD&C Color and Pigments This ingredient is used in almost all Big Food food-like products, gum, Altoids and also commercial skin care products. These artificial colors derived from coal tar contain heavy metal salts that absorb directly into the skin, causing skin sensitivity/irritation. Absorbing this can cause depletion of oxygen and even death. Almost all animal studies show that they are carcinogenic.
DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine) A foam booster, it is a skin/eye irritant and causes contact dermatitis. It is quickly absorbed through the skin and collects in body organs and the brain.
Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl) Used as preservatives and they aren’t always labeled. An ingredient in commercial deodorants and other skin care products. Found in breast cancer tumors. Attributed to sterility in males, hormone imbalance in females and early puberty.
Propylene Glycol (PG), Butylene Glycol Petroleum plastics. The EPA considers PG very toxic it requires gloves, clothing, goggles and disposal by burying. The EPA also warns against skin contact to prevent brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. PG can be found in beauty products as well as food-like products such as dried blueberries in cereals.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) Found in car washes, engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners, and 90% of personal-care products that foam. Associated dangers: eye damage, skin irritation, depression, trouble breathing, death.
Dioxin Not labeled as an ingredient and found in antibacterial ingredients like triclosan, emulsifiers, PEGs and ethoxylated cleansers like Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Dangers: linked to cancer, reduced immunity, nervous system disorders, miscarriages and birth deformities.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) Produced by ethoxylating Propylene Glycol this chemical is found in cosmetics, beauty care products, baby care products and sunscreen. Possible links to cancers (including breast cancer) and tumors. It’s even found in some natural beauty products.
Sunscreen Chemicals Avobenzone, benzphenone, ethoxycinnamate, PABA are the most common ingredients in sunscreen and are known as free radical carries and reported to damange DNA and lead to cancers. Another topic for another but the sun is not the problem; commericial sunscreens are. See below for safe sunscreens.
DMDM Hydantoin, Urea (Imidazolidinyl) These 2 preservatives release formaldehyde which can cause joint pain, cancer, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, insomnia.
Phthalates Generally not found on labels because it’s classified as proprietary. It’s used an ingredient to enhance fragrance and/or make it last longer. Used in perfumes, fragrance, hair products, deodorants, body lotions, nail polish. Health concerns: damage to liver & kidneys, birth defects, decreased sperm counts and early breast development in boys & girls, disrupt DNA, cause cancer. Avoid buying products with ingredients labeled ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’.
Triclosan This synthetic antibacterial ingredient is found in toothpaste and beauty products. The EPA registers it as a pesticide as it poses health risks to humans and the environment. It’s classified as a chlorophenol and suspected to cause cancer in humans.
Even so-called "natural" beauty products still contain some of the above mentioned ingredients. Beauty products are not regulated. So what lotions and potions are safe? Here are a few Sarah Stanley Approved brands:
Rocky Mountain Soap Company (including cosmetics)
SKINourishment (including safe, non-cancer causing sunscreens)
For Pits Sake Deodorant Note: I personally use this one and I run ultramarathons, so it's well tested :)
Nourish Organic (fantastic, ethical company who makes great products!
Organic cold-pressed coconut oil makes a fantastic face+body moisturizer (I use this as a moisturizer and love it!)
Honeybee Gardens (love their eyeshadow!)
Cover photo credit: Ian A. Kirk