Our Wellness Wednesday theme for November is safe skincare. Last week’s post: Is Your Skincare Safe Enough to Eat?
Have you seen the labels in the skincare aisles?
Lotion “With moisturizing shea!”
Sunburn cream “With soothing aloe!”
Skincare products like these contain nourishing, healing elements, sure. But unfortunately, they’re also chock-full of ingredients that you don’t want on your skin.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and makes up an area of about 20 square feet! It’s worth taking care of.
Here are 5 ingredients commonly found in skincare products that you may want to rethink. (Note: these are my top 5, although there are many other skincare ingredients that need investigation!)
5 Ingredients to Avoid in Conventional Skincare Products
1. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates
Found in: shampoo, body wash, hand soap, mouthwash, toothpaste, and more
Why it’s there: as as a detergent and foaming agent (because bubbles=clean, right??)
Why you should rethink it: SLS strips and dries out the skin, breaking down the skin’s protective moisture barriers and causing irritation. It can also cause canker sores. Some studies indicate that SLS is also contaminated with carcinogens. Read more about that here.
Found in: hand soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste
Why it’s there: as a germ-killer
Why you should rethink it: Triclosan kills good bacteria right along with the bad, breaking down your body’s natural defenses. Read about more harmful effects of Triclosan here.
Found in: lotion, deodorant, conditioner, makeup
Why they’re there: as preservatives
Why you should rethink them: Parabens are linked to estrogen disruption, and have been found in breast cancer tissue. Read more here.
Found in: shampoo, conditioner, face wash, bath gels, soap, body spray
Why it’s there: for marketing. To create a nice smell, or cover up the bad smells of the other chemicals.
Why you should rethink it: “Fragrance” is a label that covers dozens of chemicals. Some fragrances are hormone disruptor, others are linked to migraines, asthma, and allergic reactions. (Look here for further reading.) Instead, see if you can find products fragranced with essential oils or with names you recognize.
Found in: perfume, hairspray, moisturizer, nail polish
Why they’re there: as a softener. Makes the product more flexible and easy to work with.
Why you should rethink them: Phthalates are linked to reproductive and developmental damage. Read more here.
For all the studies and personal anecdotes about these (and other) ingredients being harmful, there are many other studies and “experts” who say that they’re benign. It can be confusing and frustrating to find the truth about what’s safe to put on your skin.
I err on the side of caution. I do believe that these 5 ingredients are harmful to the body, especially as they build up with use over time. This is why I try to make many of my own skincare products.
Why use that lotion “with moisturizing shea!” that contains 20 other ingredients that are potentially harmful? If the shea butter is the redeeming factor in that lotion, why not just buy straight-up shea and use that?