One of the first rules of holistic skin care is, “if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.” Therefore it becomes of utmost importance to carefully observe the labels of your skincare products, just as you would your food.
By now, most of us have confronted the fact that the FDA has not done the most honest job of regulating what is considered safe for consumption – this also applies to skincare and beauty products. The truth is, most commercial skincare and hygiene products are incredibly toxic. There are literally thousands of chemicals in commercial products, all of which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream once applied to your skin.
You might be wondering how it is possible for unnatural and harmful ingredients to make their way into these products. The simple answer is that large corporations actually have the ability to freely use any raw ingredients they like without government evaluation or approval.
In short, the skincare industry is highly unregulated. There is no in-depth analysis or approval necessary for a product to make it into a store. The only testing done at all involves scanning for color additives or illegal or regulated drugs. However, a product basically just has to be marketable, leaving all ethics and morality up to the individual craftsman. This is the importance of purchasing truly natural and organic products from a trusted source.
Almost all large-scale industrial skincare products contain some sort of synthetic chemical, fragrance, or preservative, which also happen to be scientifically proven skin irritants, endocrine disruptors, and potential carcinogens.
There are literally of thousands of chemicals used in the commercial skincare industry, therefore we cannot cover all of them in one post. You can download our free eBook on Natural Skincare that goes into greater depth. Here are 9 toxic ingredients common in everyday commercial skincare products that you should avoid like the plague.
1. Artificial colors – If the label on any of your skincare or body care products reads, FD&C or D&C, they contain artificial colors. In the industry, ‘F’ means, food and ‘D&C’ means, drug and cosmetic. These code letters often precede a color, then a number. For example, D&C Red 33 is a synthetic dye that comes from petroleum or coal tar. It is a carcinogen that is potentially deadly. It is also a known irritant to the skin that is linked to ADHD in children. It also happens to be banned in European countries for these reasons but is unfortunately welcomed in commercial American beauty products.
2. Synthetic Fragrance – One of the ways the commercial skincare industry gets away with so much is because they can essentially just make up words to cover up what they’re doing. The old saying, “don’t change the word, just change the meaning”. For example, the term “fragrance” is a loose term, that doesn’t actually have to mean anything related to scent. It was actually first coined to protect a large company’s “secret formula”. However, a secret formula or proprietary blend can contain just about anything a company desires, even if it is harmful to your health. That is often times how a lot of large companies work; they find the lowest-cost ingredients possible that yield the highest profit, even if they’re dangerous. More specifically though, there are two common synthetic fragrances found in cosmetics, sunscreens and skincare products, they are derived of alkylphenol and methylparaben. They are known irritants to the skin, they cause allergies, dermatitis, respiratory problems and disrupt endocrine function.
3. Parabens – As we’ve learned, parabens are used to make synthetic fragrances. They are also used as preservatives to prevent bacteria, mold and yeast growth. Seems justified; however, parabens are some of the most harmful of all chemicals. They mimic estrogen in the body, leading to the widespread problem of estrogen dominance which is associated with everything from fatigue, obesity, infertility and breast cancer. These manmade chemicals have actually been found in tissue samples from breast tumors. Worst of all, they are almost everywhere in the modern world and can be found in cosmetics, body lotions, deodorant, shampoos and almost every type of commercial skincare merchandise.
4. Phthalates – Another harmful group of synthetic chemicals used in hundreds of products in the corporate skincare industry is phthalates. Their primary use is to soften plastic – yes, there is plastic in most conventional skincare products, but the texture is reduced by phthalates so you cannot notice. There are three primary phthalates in the commercial personal hygiene industry. Firstly we have dibutyl phthalate, which is in nail polish. Next is diethyl phthalate, which you will find in most body and facial lotions, and lastly, we find dimethyl phthalate, which is in hair products like hairspray. Phthalates are also known endocrine disruptors. They are known to cause breast cancer, premature breast development in females, and cause a host of birth defects in both males and females. Phthalates are not openly announced on the side of labels. However, it is often an ingredient in fragrances, even “natural fragrance”, so it is best to avoid any scented products like commercial perfumes and colognes, lotions and others. Unless of course they are scented with organic essential oils.
5. Triclosan – A popular additive to commercial soaps, deodorant, and even toothpaste is triclosan. It is supposed to be an antibacterial agent, however, it has actually been discovered to attribute to the creation of resistant superbugs. It’s also a known endocrine disruptor – it is especially destructive to the reproductive system. Triclosan irritates the skin, causing redness, rashes and an increased risk of skin cancer.
6. Sodium Lauryl & Laureth Sulfate – Also known as SLS and SLES, these surfactants are abundant in commercial shampoos and conditions. You’ll find them in more than 90 percent of all personal care products, especially acne products. Basically, anything that “foams” is likely to contain this toxic chemical. SLS is the core ingredient in commercial floor degreaser; imagine that on your skin. Even in small amounts, sodium lauryl sulfate is irritating to the skin, eyes, and lungs. SLS is highly reactive as well, and when combined with other harsh chemicals (as it often is), it can become carcinogenic. The specific carcinogens related to SLS and SLES are known to cause kidney and lung damage.
7. Formaldehyde – If you didn’t know, formaldehyde is the chemical used to preserve dead bodies and yes, it is a common ingredient in cosmetics and other skincare products. While most products will not label formaldehyde directly, many contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, which are said to prevent bacterial growth. However, these preservatives are known carcinogens, which are associated with nasal cancer. It is also known to cause a variety of skin problems and adversely affect immune function.
8. Propylene Glycol – You might think that alcohol is safe and natural for the body. However, this supposed “skin conditioner” penetrates the skin and causes irritation for most people. Even in low concentrations, it is known to cause dermatitis and hives. This harsh ingredient is present in skin lotions, moisturizers, sunscreen, and others.
9. Toluene – Like most of the harsh chemicals, toluene is derived from petroleum and coal tar. Its common names are benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Aside from being a regular ingredient in commercial skincare products, it is otherwise used potent in paint thinner as the active ingredient for dissolving paint. It is toxic to the respiratory system, irritating to the skin and more. Regular exposure to its toxic fumes can lead to developmental damage to fetuses. Toluene is also toxic to the immune system.
Finding Quality Skincare Products
Now that you know what to avoid putting on your skin, you’re likely interested in healthy alternatives. The good news is that nature has provided plenty of cleansing, healing and therapeutic botanicals and other natural substances that support good hygiene. As long as the previously mentioned ingredients are absent, along with any apparent toxic chemicals, here are just a few safe ingredients you might find in a quality skincare product.
1. Organic Essential Oils – On their own, essential oils are fantastic. Most of them share similar beneficial assets for the skin such as powerful astringent properties to cleanse the skin, antioxidant protection to the skin cells and anti-inflammatory benefits to clearing acne. The best essential oils for the skin are Frankincense, Carrot Seed, Geranium, Lavender, Neroli, Rose, Tea Tree, and Ylang Ylang, amongst others.
2. Organic Oils – Most commercial products use some sort of petroleum as a thickener or base; however, this comes with both health and ecological downsides. The sole purpose is profit, considering that it is incredibly cheap. However, there are plenty of natural, organic oils that are first and foremost non-destructive to the environment during cultivation, but also highly beneficial to the skin. Organic oils like olive oil, jojoba, cacao butter, neem oil, coconut oil and others are potent, natural anti-microbial agents. They are antioxidant-rich and contain deeply moisturizing essential fatty acids that keep the skin smooth and youthful.
3. Herbs and botanicals – Really, if you come across an organic skincare product that contains just essential oils and a good healthy fat or oil, you’ve found yourself something special. If you’re really lucky, your product will also contain a variety of medicinal herbs and other plant medicine like Schizandra, rose hips, and aloe vera. These specific examples are highly potent plant medicine; aloe vera, for example, contains immunomodulatory polysaccharides that can literally modulate the bacteria on your skin to be healthier. The only ingredients you want to see on your skincare products that you cannot pronounce are these rare tonic herbs and plants.
Our mission at Alitura Naturals is to provide the highest quality products possible. We certainly avoid all of the toxic chemicals listed above. Every ingredient is organic and pure – many are imported from far reaches of the globe. Unlike most skin care companies, our primary goal is not to minimize costs and maximize profit margins. Instead, we strive to make the most effective and natural skin care products by sourcing the best ingredients, regardless of cost.