We normally associate toiletries and cosmetics with personal hygiene and enhancing our physical appearance. Unfortunately, there is a less glamorous side to the personal care industry, as there are literally thousands of harmful toxins found in these highly intimate products.
Many of the synthetic chemicals being absorbed by our bodies are known skin irritants, endocrine disrupters, and skin penetrators. What’s more, some of the most lethal synthetic chemicals are carcinogenic and can damage reproductive health.
The local personal care industry isn’t particularly well-regulated, and countless harmful ingredients often find their way into the toiletries and cosmetics we use everyday.
On the other hand, if you thought eschewing local and buying imported toiletries and cosmetics will safeguard your health, think again. The personal care industry in many foreign markets is also poorly regulated. In the United States, government oversight is practically nonexistent, and companies are more or less free to formulate products with dangerous ingredients.
In order to safeguard your health, it’s wise to study product labels carefully and learn how to spot dangerous synthetic chemicals so that you can avoid them.
Listed here are some of the most ubiquitous and dangerous synthetic chemicals found in personal care products (including skincare).
Widely used as a preservative in skincare and pharmaceutical products, parabens prevent bacteria and fungus from developing in moist products. While both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have found no clear health risks from exposure to small amounts of parabens, it’s best to avoid exposure to high levels of this preservative. Not enough studies have been done about their impact on human health and no one really knows how much exposure could lead to health issues, including breast cancer.
To stay safe, it’s best to use skincare products and cosmetics that are paraben-free.
While bright colors and neon tints might be all the rage in skincare and cosmetics right now, these optical effects come at a heavy price. Synthetic colors are chemical additives and there could be dozens of chemicals in a single dye, making it extremely difficult to know the exact toxins your body is being exposed to.
Many synthetic colors are made from coal tar, and some contain poisonous heavy metal salts, including lead.
As manufacturers are required to list the dyes they use, avoid artificial colors by scanning product labels. While the individual chemicals used to create the dyes won’t be listed, the dyes as a whole will be listed. In many cases, the dyes will be labelled with the letters “FD&C” or “D&C”. For example, you might see “FD&C Red No.2” on the product packaging.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals that can be found in countless products. In cosmetics, the primary phthalate is dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Phthalates are known to be endocrine disrupters and exposure has been linked with the increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive birth defects. Unfortunately, phthalates aren’t disclosed on all product labels as they’re frequently listed under “fragrances”.
Far from being pleasant, the term “fragrance” on product labels represents an undisclosed melange of chemicals and ingredients, some of which are toxic. They’re added to skincare and cosmetics to add a pleasant scent, or more often, to mask a bad one. As the ingredients found in fragrances don’t have to be fully disclosed on the label, many manufacturers have used this loophole to disguise the addition of toxic chemicals in their products.
Originally used as a surgical scrub in hospitals, Triclosan can now be found in many products, including over-the-counter drugs and skincare products. It’s an antibacterial agent that’s often added to consumer products to prevent bacterial degradation and extend shelf life. Unfortunately, it’s also an endocrine disruptor and a suspected carcinogen.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) & sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
Both SLS and SLES are widely used in skincare and cosmetic products. These emulsifying agents help ingredients blend well for a prolonged shelf life and can be found in nearly all skincare items that foam. On the flip side, both SLS and SLES can also be found in industrial cleaners as they’re highly effective engine degreasing solvents.
Both SLS and SLES are skin and eye irritants, are highly toxic when absorbed by the organs, and can provoke adverse gastrointestinal reactions.
A naturally occurring chemical, formaldehyde can be found in many consumer products, including cream cleansers and skin moisturizers. Low levels of this substance are virtually harmless. However, high levels of exposure can lead to sensory irritation, breathing difficulties, and the development of cancer.
Exhausted by the list of toxic ingredients found in conventional skincare products? Safeguard your health by switching to Wildleaf’s clean and organic skincare line.
Wildleaf’s premium line of skincare products are both clean and organic, which means you won’t be applying dangerous and toxic ingredients on your skin.
When skincare products are clean, this means they’re entirely free from any of the aforementioned harmful ingredients, including parabens, formaldehyde, SLS/SLES, and synthetic colors and fragrances.
As a purveyor of organic skincare, we only use natural and organic ingredients in all of our formulations. This means your body won’t be absorbing any harmful chemicals, but instead will be absorbing vitamins and nutrients from natural sources.
Aside from safeguarding your health, your skin will react positively to our premium formulations, giving you the supple, radiant, and blemish-free skin you’ve always desired.