While going completely green may not be your thing when it comes to skincare, there are definitely some toxic ingredients that can easily be avoided. Many of the big skincare players are making moves to eliminate the well-known offenders, but we’ve rounded up a list of ingredients that are doing more harm than good in your beauty products.
Parabens: Used as a preservative agent in cosmetics, parabens are incredibly common, but many brands are slowly becoming paraben-free. Found in just about any beauty product, from mascara to shampoo, parabens prevent fungus from growing in liquids. The issue is they mimic estrogen in the body, which can disrupt the function of actual estrogen”this has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. There aren’t any conclusive studies to prove a direct link between parabens and breast cancer, but many are opting to be cautious and to skip parabens all together.
Sulphates: Chances are your favourite foamy body wash contains sulphates. In cleansers, they react with water to help break down oily or greasy substances. Sulphates tend to be extremely drying to the hair and skin, which causes redness and irritation. Our bodies need their protective layer of natural oils, and by stripping it away (squeaky clean isn’t the best), you’re doing yourself more harm than good. Not to mention, these drying agents can dull your colour-processed hair, which just sucks.
Triclosan: An antimicrobial agent, triclosan is often found in deodorants and toothpastes. Triclosan has earned a shady reputation as an endocrine disruptor, specifically meaning it interferes with thyroid function. Triclosan targets bacteria, and the bacteria becomes stronger and resistant to attack”this can also affect the efficacy of antibiotics.
Phthalates: This is one of the more well-known ingredients, and many companies tout the fact that their products are phthalate-free. Phthalates are used to keep plastics moldable and prevent them from going brittle”for instance, in nail polishes and hairspray. These chemicals are known to cause birth defects in lab animal testing”that’s a big yikes for something you’re allowing to be absorbed by your skin.
Toluene: Found in nail polish and hair dye, toluene is an ingredient used to create a smooth finish when adhering colour. Toluene is a highly toxic chemical, and can cause minor side effects, from headaches and dizziness, to higher stake consequences like developmental and organ toxicity (eek). We don’t expect you to throw out your polishes, but remember to do your manis and pedis in well ventilated area to avoid unnecessary inhalation of the fumes.
DEA (diethanolamine): Used to give products a creamy, smoother texture, DEA is a common in many skincare and sunscreen products. DEA does not play nicely with nitrites, and some preservatives in skincare release nitrites as they breakdown, creating a carcinogenic compound. So what may not sound like a huge concern when you’re purchasing your product, this by-product of DEA can quickly turn toxic if you’re slower to consume your products.