We all know skin care can be dangerous. The many natural skin care reviews filling magazines and websites today constantly shout at us about the large number of harmful ingredients that can be found in most popular beauty products.
Nevertheless, some women are not so convinced. “But I’m applying my makeup and creams — not eating them,” they say. “Are the ingredients really such a big deal?”
The answer is yes.
Studies suggest that up to 60% of a product applied to the skin winds up inside your body, being absorbed through the pores. In fact, many topically-applied skin products contain absorption enhancers, ingredients designed to increase the speed at which your skin “drinks in” the product.
And this is to say nothing of the hormone-altering fragrances often found in these very same skin products.
If you’ve ever wondered why natural skin care products are so much better than the popular stuff you find on the shelves, here are some dangerous (and sadly, very popular) ingredients you should definitely know about:
A frequently occurring ingredient in lotions and creams, cosmetic companies claim that the body quickly breaks down parabens. But at least thirteen studies have shown this chemical to linger in the system, and behave like estrogen.
That’s a problem. Studies have conclusively proven that excess estrogen can lead to uterine and breast cancers. To make matters worse, the FDA seems to avoid drawing a connection between parabens and reproductive cancers.
It’s unclear if the FDA’s hesitance to blow the whistle is a result of pressure from the very well-funded traditional cosmetics industry. But it is clear that when it comes to safety, we as consumers are often on our own, and need to be careful about what we allow on our skin.
Watch out for parabens under other label names, such as benzylparaben, methylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, and ethylparaben.
2. Pthalates (pronounced: THAY-lates)
If you ever see the word “fragrance” included in the ingredients of a product in your cabinet, chances are it contains pthalates — a very harmful group of industrial chemicals.
Pthalates are known to be endocrine inhibitors (“endocrine” is another way of saying “hormone”) — and are linked to such things as liver cancer, and demasculinization of developing male children. Details such as these are often omitted from the average skin care review.
Though the U.S. Center for Disease Control has contended this chemical’s links to cancer not to be conclusively established, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has felt strongly enough to regulate Pthalates as known water and air pollutants.
The bad news is, since pthalates are used as stabilizers for fragrances within beauty products, they are a double threat — entering your body through both skin absorption and breathing in.
Bottom line: If the label says “fragrance,” it’s probably best to put it down (and run away!).
Ureas are chemical compounds often used as preservatives in moisturizers. Sounds harmless enough, except for the way they preserve — by slowly releasing formaldehyde.
What’s formaldehyde? It’s a gas that, according to the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services, “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
If that doesn’t sound good to you, you’re not alone.
Ureas are often found on labels under the name diazolidinyl urea.
So How Can I Stay Safe?
It’s about making better choices.
“While we may not be able to control the carcinogens we breathe from the air or drink from the water, we don’t need to be putting these chemicals directly on our skin,” says Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.
“Taking these chemicals out of personal care products should be a no-brainer. It’s an easy way, relatively speaking, to reduce the toxic load in the world.”
One way of ensuring the purity of what you put on your skin is to make it yourself (we’ll be covering some ways to do that with home recipes in some future articles).
For the busier among us, looking for skin product manufacturers with a high-degree of integrity and moral values is key. Truly natural skin care lines like these are growing in number, but we recommend the Xtend-Life brand. Their products, along with their mission and values can be found by clicking here.