Many brands of makeup are full of chemicals and harsh substances. But are natural skincare products any better and worth the hype? After all, it’s not just about what you put in your body, but what you put on it as well.
Despite being our largest organ, many people don’t consider what they put on their skin because it’s just ‘external,’ but the skin actually absorbs a large portion of what we put on it.
That is how small portions of the contents of soaps, lotions, and makeup products end up in our bloodstream. While you may not realize it, accumulating these toxins can cause health problems down the road.
Reading the labels isn’t just for food products. It’s also important for your beauty routine.
Toxins commonly found in skincare products
Fragrances, listed on the ingredients, denotes a combination of several different chemicals and are found in everything from lotions and deodorants to lip glosses and laundry detergent. Many fragrances used in products are irritants that can trigger allergies, headaches, and asthma. Fragrances have also been associated with an increased risk of cancer and neurotoxicity. Ingredients such as diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is not a perfume itself but rather acts on them to enhance its performance, have been linked with reproductive issues, hormone dysfunction, and increased risk of obesity and insulin resistance.
Parabens are one of the most widely used preservatives in the cosmetic industry. They can easily penetrate the skin, and since they are not metabolized, they enter the bloodstream and organs directly intact and can cause hormone disruptions in both males and females. Studies have shown that parabens can also cause DNA damage.
BHA and BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are synthetic antioxidants that are often used as preservatives in cosmetics. They can induce allergic reactions, are classified as carcinogenic and can interfere with hormone function.
Coal tar dyes
These dyes are used extensively in many cosmetic products and can be identified by their 5-digit number; they may also be listed as “FD&C” or “D&C.” They are a mixture of chemicals derived from petroleum and are carcinogenic. Some may even be mixed with heavy metals like aluminum, which are known to be toxic to the brain.
These compounds are what are used to make cosmetics creamy or sudsy. It’s mainly found in moisturizers and sunscreens but can also be found in soaps, shampoos, and cleansers. They can act as mild irritants, and studies have shown that in high doses, DEA can also cause certain types of cancer and changes in the skin and thyroid.
Widely used as a preservative by the cosmetics industry, formaldehyde is slowly released in small amounts from these products, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies as a known carcinogen. Formaldehyde is also easily absorbed through the skin.
Polyethylene glycols, or PEGs, are petroleum-based compounds that are commonly used as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture carriers. They are known human carcinogens and have also been found to disrupt the nervous system. They can also cause irritation and systemic toxicity.
Also known as petroleum jelly (for example, Vasoline), petrolatum is used as a barrier to lock moisture in the skin in moisturizers and also in hair care products to make your hair shiny. The risk with petrolatum is contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are associated with cancer, skin irritation, and allergies.
Siloxanes are silicone-based products that are used to soften, smooth, and moisten cosmetics. Studies have shown them to be endocrine disruptors, increase the risk of developing uterine tumors, and disrupt the nervous and immune systems.
Sodium Laureth sulfate
SLESs are commonly used in cosmetics as a detergent, as well as making the products foam and bubble. It’s often found in products like shampoos, shower gels, and facial cleansers. Contaminants to this compound are known as human carcinogens and cause harm to the nervous system.
Is it worth switching to natural skincare products?
Nowadays, it’s not hard to find 100% natural cosmetics that will help to enhance your natural beauty and help to maintain youthful-looking skin. So, is switching to natural skincare products a good idea?
Absolutely. While the natural alternatives may be a little pricier than their toxic counterparts, you’ll save money in the long run. Not only do you avoid putting all the harsh chemicals and toxins into your body, but you also save yourself from developing health problems.
Next time you’re looking to purchase a moisturizer or facial cleanser, read the label more carefully. If you’re confused or can’t remember what to look out for, download the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep app to determine whether it’s safe for your health. It has a database of over 78,000 cosmetics and personal care products to help guide you in making an informed decision. And the great thing is, it comes with a scanning option, so you don’t have to do all the work!
You can make your own natural skincare products
If you’re not interested in purchasing a pre-made product, why not try some DIY skincare? Here are some ideas for bases to use:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Shea butter
- Raw honey
- Sea salt
- Argan oil
- Jojoba oil
- Almond oil
Want to spice up your moisturizer? Try adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil!
Things like tea tree, lemon, grapefruit, or lavender can give a lovely smell to your favorite homemade skin care products without all the toxins! Not only will you be putting healthier, great-smelling products on your skin, but you’ll also be getting the benefits of the oil itself!
If you’re curious to know which products we recommend, check out our review on a few great natural skincare brands!