5 ingredients in skincare products to avoid at all costs

Would you slather gasoline or diesel on your face? How about liquid plastic, formaldehyde, or lead? Of course not!

So, I encourage you to take a closer look at what you’re putting on your skin. Many skincare products contain petroleum by-products, phthalates (a plasticizing agent), formaldehyde releasing chemicals and other toxins.

You won’t see these ingredients listed in your skincare products because they’re hidden. So, today I’m sharing what to look for, so you can stay away from some of the most toxic ingredients.

Why avoid them? They are known hormone disruptors and carcinogens. While manufacturers and the FDA may claim these ingredients are safe in small amounts, I’m not convinced. My concern is that we are exposed to so many toxins in our environment, why add more fuel to the fire (literally!)?

What you put on your skin penetrates your skin and ends up in your bloodstream. They don’t just sit on the surface but are seeping through or going into the air around which you breathe.

Keep this in mind: The FDA has banned 11 ingredients while the EU has banned over 1000. The FDA says safety for personal care products is the responsibility of the manufacturer. That’s not reassuring… So, it’s really up to you, the consumer, to be proactive.

Here are 5 ingredients to look for in your skincare products:

#1 Ingredient to avoid: FRAGRANCE

This is a big one because we like to smell good and manufacturers know that. The problem is that most skin care products contain synthetic fragrance, which is where many harmful ingredients are hidden. Fragrance contains a number of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs are a class of chemicals that, in studies, are associated conditions such as thyroid problems, infertility, early menopause, early puberty, obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancer (such as prostate, testicular and breast cancer).

One of the chemicals of particular concern is diethyl phthalate (DEP). It is used to make smells last longer, but they’re known EDCs. And, they’re in most of us…

In a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), they found metabolites of diethyl phthalate and other phthalates in over 75% of the samples. This shows widespread exposure and absorption of phthalates in the United States.

Canadians aren’t any better off. In the Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007-2009, 11 phthalate metabolites were detected in >90% of Canadians.

We need more research on phthalates and human health, but there already are some shocking studies. For example, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed a correlation in the study’s group of U.S. men between high phthalate metabolite levels and abdominal obesity and insulin resistance.

#2 Ingredient to avoid: Formaldehyde Releasers.

Look on the label for quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Bronopol, or imidazolidinyl urea. These ingredients are called formaldehyde releasers because they release formaldehyde into the surrounding air and liquids. In other words, when you rub skin care products containing these chemicals onto your skin they can go into the air around which you breathe or perhaps through your skin.

Formaldehyde is known to cause DNA damage and cancer. It is most dangerous when inhaled, and in liquid form can be absorbed through the skin. In addition to being carcinogenic, formaldehyde and its releasers can cause “allergic” reactions including skin irritations and asthma.

The FDA has provided data that close to one fifth of all cosmetics in the USA contain a formaldehyde releaser.

While some say the small amount in personal care products is “safe,” I’m not convinced. We’re exposed to formaldehyde thru pressed-wood furniture (most furniture in people’s homes), building materials, permanent-press fabrics, paper product coatings, glues and adhesives, cigarette smoke, and vehicle exhaust. We are already surrounded, and we know they’re carcinogenic, so why add more when we don’t have to? 

In skincare products, formaldehyde releasers are used as preservatives, but the good news is there are natural alternatives!

#3 Ingredient: Mineral oil (untreated and mildly treated)

Mineral oil is derived from crude oil and is in a variety of skincare and cosmetics. In addition to being a non-renewable source and not environmentally friendly, there are concerns about its safety. Untreated and mildly treated mineral oils have been classified as a known human carcinogen. They contain harmful impurities such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic.

While most mineral oils in personal care products are refined and considered “safe,” they’re still derived from crude oil, so I’m not convinced we should be slathering them on our bodies. They do accumulate in our bodies in our fat, lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and lungs. And, that accumulation appears to be from skincare products.

So, until we’re 100% sure the mineral oil we’re using is 100% pure, I would steer clear. There are much healthier, eco-friendly and effective alternatives derived from nature!

#4 Ingredient: Parabens

Parabens are known xenoestrogens, which means they have estrogenic activity in the body. Parabens have been found in breast tumors, yet many skincare companies deny this means anything for your health.

However, a new study in Environmental Health Perspectives (October 2015) concluded, “parabens might be active at exposure levels not previously considered toxicologically relevant from studies testing their effects in isolation.” 

And we know it’s absorbed into our bodies. For example, Environmental Working Group did a study of teenage girls, and all participants tested positive for two parabens: methylparaben and propylparaben.

It’s time for skincare companies to stop denying the concerns about parabens, and, as consumers, it’s our job to read labels and demand change. Here is what you’ll find on labels: propylparaben, benzylparaben, methylparaben, or butylparaben.

#5 Ingredient: DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamide) and TEA (triethanolamine)

Studies have shown a link between exposure to high doses of these chemicals and liver cancers and precancerous changes in skin and thyroid. Canada and the European Union classify DEA as harmful and toxic.

These ingredients can also react with other chemicals in cosmetics to form carcinogenic nitrosamines.

DEA, MEA and TEA are used to make skin care products creamy (such as moisturizers and sunscreens) and foamy (cleansers and soaps) and help increase the pH of the formula. But, these are unnecessary because there are safe natural alternatives!

Unfortunately, this is just a start! There are many more ingredients in skincare products that are toxic and harmful to your health. Some research has revealed the toxicity of certain skincare ingredients, but more needs to be done.

I’m fed up with harmful skincare products because I’ve researched skincare ingredients and know that we do not need these toxic chemicals! There are natural preservatives, thickeners and fragrances that are safe and effective.

To show you that it’s possible, I created The Spa Dr.’s Daily Essential skincare system that is clean, non-toxic and effective. And, they contain a natural preservative system that gives them a two-year shelf life!

Visit The Spa Dr store here.