Skip to main content

Beauty Product Bandits


There are certain guidelines that must be followed in order for the beauty products we purchase to be deemed safe for use. Most of us trust when we pick up a product at the store it has been vigorously tested and will help us look our most radiant.  But the more I looked into the ingredients on the labels of my beloved beauty products, the more I began to wonder if ‘safe for use’ and health promoting were even in the same realm. How far could I trust the intended product use when looking at the ingredients told a very different story? 

Did I only need my moisturizer because I was stripping my natural oils away with harsh cleaning agents?

Would my skin naturally heal itself and become soft, glowing and beautiful if I simply got out of its way and let it achieve its natural balanced state?

Was I drowning myself in hormone disrupting chemicals from the lotions and potions I assumed were helping?

When it came to my beauty regime, was the reason I needed so many beauty products because I was using so many beauty products?

The researcher in me had to investigate. I began looking up some of the ingredients on my beauty product labels and it didn't take long to find some concerning culprits.

Here are the top 5 ingredients in my beauty products that I will now be avoiding.


Alcohol

What to look out for on the label: SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol), ethanol, methanol and Benzyl Alcohol.

Common products: Foundations, Concealers, Face wash, Acne treatments

In addition to its anti-bacterial properties, alcohol is often found in products marketed towards oily skin. It gives the product a lightweight feel and quick-drying finish. These alcohols stunt the skins natural renewing process and strip the natural oils from the skin causing dryness that can then be followed by an excess production of oil as your skin strives to maintain homeostasis. This drying process can also create minuscule cracks in the skin, just large enough for bacteria to creep in, giving you acne. Which is great (if you're a cosmetic company), because you will soon be perusing the selves for another product to banish your new spots!


Parabens

What to look out for on the label: Any ingredient that ends with “paraben”

Common products: Make-up, Hair care, Lotions, Creams, Deodorant, Soaps

Even if you haven’t taking a closer look at the ingredient list on your products, chances are you have already heard parabens are a big no-no. “Paraben-free” has been popping up for years on our beloved beauty products and toiletries. Parabens have been used as a cheap preservative to prolong shelf-life and prevent bacteria from growing inside the bottle. Sounds great right? Well it was, until researchers found out how easily absorbed by the body they were. The parabens started showing up in blood and urine samples within hours of application.  Likewise, when malignant breast tumours cells were analyzed guess what showed up in the lab report? That's right, our pervasive little parabens.  Even more suspicious, most breast cancer tumours develop on the side of the breast nearest the armpit…right where paraben filled deodorants are applied daily. 

The endocrine-related effects of parabens on the thyroid, hormone-related cancers, obesity and reproduction have all been documented but a causal link is yet to be established.  Still, it’s a good idea to steer clear of any products with a pesky paraben in the ingredient list to be safe.


Petroleum (Mineral Oils, Polymers)

What to look out for on the label: Mineral oils, Fragrances, Propylene glycol, Isopropyl alcohol, Liquid paraffin, paraffin oil, Carbomer, Sodium polyacrylate, Polyethylene glycols (PEGs), Polyimide-1, Polyquaternium-11….pretty much look for the prefix ‘poly’.

Common Products: Moisturizers, Cleansers, Foundations, Sunscreens, Hair care and Petroleum jelly.

Petroleum derivatives come in many different varieties on our product labels, each with their unique hell to raise. Mineral oils, often found in moisturizers, create a seal on top of the skin in order to lock in moisture. Problem is, this barrier also locks in bacteria and is known to clog pores.  Petroleum products are highly absorbable through our skin but are not able to be metabolizedSome research estimates that 1g of our body weight is actually mineral oil. Yuck. Add in the possible cancer and hormonal imbalance connections and I’d say we should be thinking twice before slathering on this jelly in any form.


Sulfates

What to look out for on the label: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) , Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Sodium Lauroyl Isoethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Taurate, Sodium Cocoyl Isoethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isoethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate

Common products: Soaps, Shampoos, Body washes, Face cleansers and Toothpastes

The soft lather of white bubbles that makes you feel like your a 17 year old model in a TV commercial is a product of sulfates. Sulfates are cheap, harsh detergents that can be found in most cleaning products (including laundry, household and dish soaps). These little buggers are quite impressive as they attract both the oil and water. They are able to pull the oil off the surface of your skin, and bind it to water so you can wash it down the drain.

The problem is, sulfates do too good of a job stripping your natural oils. Your skin and scalp produce oils for very important reasons. These oils are protective against the many environmental baddies you come up against throughout your day. Without these oils, detrimental microbes, pollutants and allergens have free access to the sensitive layers of your skin, scalp and hair. In fact, sulfates actual lift up your hair cuticles, allowing damage to occur at the cortex of the hair shaft. This weakens your hair, causing more breakage, while leaving hair dull and frizzy, with split ends galore. Fun times. But don’t worry; I’m sure the shampoo company sells a deep conditioner to combat at least some of the damage their shampoo has caused your doo.


Formaldehyde

What to look out for on the label: DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, Bronopol, Hydroxymethylglycinate

Common products: Skin care, Nail polish, Nail polish remover, Chemical hair straightening/smoothing products, Toothpaste, Perfume, Baby wipes.

Formaldehyde is used to extend the shelf life of your beauty products. While you may not see it explicitly labeled as ‘formaldehyde’ (although I did) this known carcinogenic (when inhaled) can sneak into your products in the form of ‘formaldehyde releasers’. These chemicals can produce formaldehyde over time as they come into contact with water. 

Even though I didn't see any research finding a causal relationship between the Formaldehyde in beauty care and illness, my intuition tells me I shouldn't continue to risk my health waiting to see if science finds one. Bye-Bye Formaldehyde!



Researching these common beauty ingredients was enough for me to start tossing products in the bin. The problem was, when I started looking into 'natural' and 'organic' products, I started to see some suspicious ingredients living in those products as well! Check back next week, before you start replacing your conventional products with their 'green' counterparts because in the world of cosmetics and beauty products, I'm learning nothing is what it seems!

Thanks for reading!

Jen



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to get into Alignment

The best advice I’ve ever been given: “Get as happy as you can, as often as you can.”
One of biggest roadblocks of my journey came in the form of the elusive alignment requirement. 
The word alignment was popping up all over the place. 
Let’s start with the basics. What is Alignment?
The definition of Alignment can vary from teacher to teacher. Some, as with Eckhart Tolle, see Alignment as being mentally situated in the present moment. Alignment comes when we are not dwelling on the past or anticipating/worrying about the future. 
Mindful meditation is a great exercise to train your brain to slow down and focus on the present. A student of mine combats the stress of university by practicing Yoga. She shared with me that the only time she could slow her brain down and relax was during Yoga class. I immediately recognized this as her Alignment practice! Yoga allowed her to be present not focus on the past or future.
However, one should not simply restrict this exercise to only a 10-30 minute …

3 no-fail ways to re-enter Alignment when you can’t get back in (+ a bonus last resort!)

The flow you experience when you are in Alignment is addicting. You’re feeling fantastic, everything seems to be going your way, life’s difficulties feel temporary and you’re motivated to fix them without complaint.
But life requires contrast and as a consequence, once you’ve experienced the magic of being in Alignment, it becomes very frustrating when you’re out and can’t seem to get back in. Your usual get happy tricks aren’t working. Netflix is boring, you’re sick of the music on your playlist, it’s too cold to go for a walk and even a piece of your favourite chocolate just ain’t cutting it today.
Here are my top three tricks to get you back into Alignment.
Accept it (without judgement)
This is number one for a reason. It’s one of the most powerful tools you can use when you’re feeling those negative emotions that are keeping you down. It can also be one of the most difficult steps to take. The good news is that once you start practicing acceptance on a regular basis it becomes alm…

7 tips to get your subconscious mind to work for you!

So you've watched the secret, or read about the law of attraction? You hear people talking about manifesting and making their dreams come true.  You think, hey if they can do it, so can I! Your biggest desire comes to mind and you set off on the path to bring it into your life. You cut out pictures of your dream car, you put it on your bulletin board and on the bathroom mirror. You start picturing yourself in your new car everyday and the desire becomes stronger. After a month your new car still hasn't arrived. You start wishing harder, more often. You're starting to wonder how your new car is going to come to you. The lottery? A raise at work? You start getting frustrated, feeling a little foolish and maybe even angry. You decide this new age stuff is a bunch of junk and you tear down the pictures from your wall, embarrassed you ever bought into the hype.
I thought the more energy I put into wanting something, the more I thought about how I was going to get it, the more li…

21 Day Reset Part 3 - When to Eat: Slow Down, You’re Going To* Fast.

*excuse the pun ;)

Many have now discovered when they eat is just as (maybe more so...) important as what they eat.
Fasting is no longer a terrible f word met with tsk tsk noises and warnings about slowing metabolisms. In fact, I was just at a market this weekend and when offered samples I would let them know I couldn’t partake because I was fasting, I was astonished at the amount of people who also fasted or had a story about someone else’s fasting success. 
Fasting is the quickest way to reduce insulin levels and your body weight set point. Bye bye buddha belly. Studies also point to fasting potentially for longevity enhancement . In fact, longevity improvements are seen with intermittent fasting even without caloric reduction. Fasting can also cause a reduction ininflammation. Inflammation is bad for the joints, the heart, your waist line and can even play a role in cancer and depression. 
So how can we see all these great benefits from fasting and yet no decrease in metabolic rate lik…

Everything you think you know about sun exposure is WRONG. Here’s the proof!

It was a conversation with my doctor, years ago, that first peaked my curiously about the risk vs. the reward of sun exposure. As I confided in him about the onset of depressive symptoms he asked if they got worse in the wintertime? I practically rolled my eyes at him. I had heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder in my psychology classes, and was certain my symptoms warranted a more serious diagnosis than something called SAD! Still, I agreed that maybe it was possible that I had become more depressed nearing the latter part of winter. But if this was true, I thought, what could possibly be the explanation? Was it because of the shorter, darker days? More time spent inside because of the extreme cold we experience in Canada? What did all these variables have in common?
First, A Few Facts
Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) is part of the light spectrum that makes it from our favourite star in the sky to the rock we call home. UVR is comprised of 3 main types of UV rays; UVA, UVB, and UVC.
The o…