It’s that time of the year for spring cleaning your house and your skin! Grab all your makeup, skincare, and personal care products and do an inventory. Check out the labels and make sure they don’t contain any nasty ingredients. Even natural ingredients can have scientific names that are difficult to pronounce, so don’t be put off, do your homework.
Always remember that anything you put on or around your skin is in your bloodstream in 26 to 32 seconds. That is a little scary. There are many natural or green products on the market to choose from. If you are unsure about a specific product or ingredient and live close by, bring your stash into the store and Jane will check them over for you.
It’s time to detox, detox, detox. Rev up your skin, get out in the fresh air, and prepare your skin for the summer months ahead.
Ingredients to Avoid
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) / BHT (butylated hydroxytolune)
These are synthetic antioxidants used to extend the shelf life of many products. They can be found in exfoliants, perfume, makeup, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other cosmetics. BHA and BHT are thought to be human carcinogens, while also causing skin dyspigmentation, liver damage, reproductive system development abnormalities, and allergies. They are also thought to mimic estrogen, which would affect hormone levels.
Coal Tar is a byproduct of coal processing and is a known carcinogen. It’s also common for Coal Tar to be contaminated with heavy metals that are toxic to the brain. It’s used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent in hair dye and shampoo. You can generally find this ingredient identified by a five-digit color index number or “FD&C” or “D&C” followed by a color name and number. P-phenylenediamine is an example of this ingredient found in many hair dyes.
Ethanolamines DEA / TEA / MEA
These ingredients are commonly found in moisturizers, sunscreens, soaps, and shampoo products to make them creamy or sudsy and adjust the pH. Using products with these ingredients can cause skin irritation and has also been linked to liver cancer and precancerous skin changes. They’ve also been linked to allergies, skin toxicity, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain development. Not only are they harmful to our bodies, but they’re also harmful to fish and other wildlife after they’re washed down the drain.
Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) / Phthalates
Found in products like nail polish, deodorant, and scented lip balm, DBP can be grouped under the term “fragrance”. DBP helps prevent the polish from becoming brittle and also serves as a solvent for dyes. This ingredient is absorbed through the skin and causes endocrine disruption, headaches and respiratory problems, developmental defects, and changes in the testes and prostate. It also enhances the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations. The EU banned the chemical from cosmetics, and the U.S. banned it from being used to make children’s toys, although it’s still allowed in nail polish.
Formaldehyde is a common preservative in cosmetics, nail polish, shampoo, body wash, bubble bath and more. However, it’s so powerful it has the ability to preserve a corpse. It causes endocrine disruption, headaches, respiratory problems, and it’s a known human carcinogen. Not only is this ingredient absorbed into the skin, but it also releases a gas from cosmetics and can be inhaled. Formaldehyde can be shown as: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-nitropropane, 1,3 diol (bronopol) and as several other preservatives.
Parabens are used as preservatives in makeup, moisturizer, shaving gel, shampoo, and many more. Parabens can hide behind the term fragrance, so they can be hard to find. It’s estimated that 75-90% of cosmetics contain parabens. Using products containing parabens has been linked to breast cancer (found in 19/20 human breast tumors tested), skin cancer, and decreased sperm count due to it mimicking estrogen. It’s estimated that most women are exposed to 50 mg or parabens a day because of their cosmetics.
Fragrances can be found in almost any product including moisturizers, deodorant, lotion, face cream, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, softeners, and cleaning products. We like our products to smell good. However, over 3,000 chemicals are used as fragrances. These chemicals can still be in products marketed as “fragrance-free” or “unscented” with a masking agent. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed, so it’s best to play it safe, unless you can get the fragrance formula from the company. The chemicals used to create fragrance can cause allergies, asthma, and disruptions in hormones.
PEG compounds (Polyethylene Glycol)
PEGs are commonly used in scrubs, body wash, makeup, toothpaste, and more to thicken, soften, and hold moisture. It’s also used as laxatives in pharmaceuticals. PEGs are frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, which are considered probable human carcinogens. They are easily absorbed into the skin and is also damaging to marine animals after they’re washed off.
Petrolatum / Mineral Oil / Petroleum Jelly
Petrolatum and Mineral Oil are byproducts of the production of crude oil. They’re used as ingredients in cosmetics to help bind moisture to the skin and add shine to hair. Petrolatum and Mineral oil can clog pores and is often tainted with other chemicals during the refining process. They can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAs). Exposure or skin contact to these ingredients is associated with cancer. They can also cause skin irritation and allergies.
Siloxanes / Silicones
Watch out for dimethicone, cyclomethicone, cyclopentasiloxane or other ingredients ending in “cone”. These are silicone-based compounds, used to soften, smooth, and moisten. They’re commonly found in moisturizers, facial treatments, and hair products. Environment Canada concluded cyclotetrasiloxane and cyclopentasiloxane (D4 and D5) are toxic. D4 is known to be an endocrine disruptor and is a possible reproductive toxicant. High exposure to D5 has been linked to uterine tumors and reproductive and immune complications.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate / Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLES and SLS)
Products that create suds or lather like shampoo, body wash, foundation, face wash, mouthwash, and toothpaste are likely to contain SLES or SLS. These ingredients cause or contribute to: skin irritation, canker sores, disruptions of skin’s natural oil balance,’ and eye damage. The addition of these ingredients in cosmetics is believed to be a major contributor to acne (especially cystic acne) around the mouth and chin. It’s also corrosive, meaning it can wear away at the protective lining of your skin, and can cause premature skin aging.
Triclosan is used as a preservative and anti-bacterial agent in toothpaste, deodorant, antibacterial soap, cleansers, hand sanitizers, laundry detergent, facial tissues, and much more. Triclosan can pass through skin and causes hormone disruption, bacterial resistance, impaired muscle function, impaired immune function and increased allergies. The EU classifies Triclosan as irritating to skin and eyes. The Canadian Medical Association has called for a ban on antibacterial consumer products, such as those containing triclosan. It’s very toxic to aquatic organisms as well, because it doesn’t easily degrade and can build up in the environment after rinsed down the drain.
Oxybenzone is commonly used as a chemical filter in sunscreen, and can also be found in moisturizers, lip balm, and makeup. Oxybenzone acts like estrogen in the body, causing many problems. It alters sperm production, is associated with endometriosis in women, alters thyroid function, and is linked to skin allergies. Chemical sunscreens should be avoided at all costs, especially with children. It’s also possible that Oxybenzone is carcinogenic.
Lead is found mostly in foundation, lipsticks, and whitening toothpaste. It’s been linked to miscarriages, disruption of the nervous system, brain damage, infertility, and hypertension (to name a few). Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found lead in over half of the 33 brands of lipstick they tested. FDA tested popular brands and found 400 that contained up to 7.19 ppm of lead. It isn’t added as an ingredient, but rather makes its way in through contamination, typically through color additives. It can be hard to avoid lead, the best way to do so is by buying from brands you can trust. Buy makeup from companies that make products in small batches and avoid contamination, or buy products colored naturally, like with fruit pigments or alkanet root.
You’ve probably heard of aluminum as a common ingredient in antiperspirant deodorants. Here’s why you should avoid it. There are clear links between aluminum and breast cancer. Some studies have also linked aluminum to Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies suggest a link between aluminum other brain disorders. The average person will internalize three pounds of aluminum in their lifetime. With the lymph being so close to where you apply deodorant, you need to be careful with the products you choose.
Hydroquinone is used as a skin lightener, to decrease the appearance of age spots, sun damage, or acne scars, and it evens tone. Using products that contain this ingredient can cause a skin disease called Ochronosis, which causes blue-black lesions on exposed skin. The FDA announced that more testing was needed to verify its safety. Studies on animals produced evidence that it could be carcinogenic when taken orally. It has the ability to penetrate deep into the skin, making topical use concerning as well. Using hydroquinone long term can decrease your skin elasticity, meaning you could experience early signs of aging.
Learn to clean out your products
Remember that skincare and makeup expires. You need to throw away any products that could be expired, even if they’re made with safe, natural ingredients.
Makeup Expiration Guide:
Foundation/concealer - 1 year
Eye shadow - 1 year
Lipstick - 2 years
Eyeliner/mascara - 3 months
Nail polish - 1 year
Hopefully this list will help you with your journey to use all-natural products and invest in your own health. This list is just a small portion of the list of ingredients janegee refuses to use in any products. Click here to view our Nasties list. Cleaning out your products can be overwhelming, especially when you’re not completely sure what to look for, but we’re here to help!
If you have any questions about a specific ingredient, or product, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, or check out Silent Spring Institute. They do a lot of research about chemicals found in cosmetics and other products. They also have an app called Detox Me that provides a great resource to learn more information and get research-based tips about skincare, cleaning, or personal care products.