It’s an unpleasant reality that many of the products easily available on store shelves today are actually harmful to our health.
The cosmetics and skin care industries are some of the worst offenders, adding carcinogens, hormone disruptors, immuno-modulators, and other scary chemicals to their formulas of supposedly benign things like shampoos, lotions, and sunscreens.
I’ll grant that when these companies first began making their cosmetics, the toxic effects of many of these chemicals were not known or understood. Petroleum byproducts became cheap and widely available commodities as the global demand for fuel increased. How else were the oil companies going to make a profit on all that waste from drilling and refining?
But now we know better, even if the mainstream cosmetics and skin care products industries think we’re too stupid to care about what we put on our skin to be absorbed into our body systems.
- alpha & beta hydroxy acids (AHA, BHA, lactic acid, glycolic acid)
- parabens (methylparabens, propylparbens)
- lodopropynyl butylcarbamate
- triclosan (anti-microbial liquid soap)
Here are some other ingredients the EWG says to avoid:
SUNSCREENS: Avoid padimate-O and paba. The low risk ingredients in this category are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
NAIL POLISH: Avoid dibutylphthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene. The safer way to use: In well-ventilated areas, but “don’t use when pregnant.”
HAIR DYE: Avoid dark permanent hair dyes. The low-risk hair dyes are light-colored hair dyes used infrequently. (See my post about natural hair dye!)
SKIN LIGHTENERS. Avoid hydroquinone and sodium nitrate. The EWG recommends avoiding altogether or at least using skin lighteners infrequently.
ANTI-AGING. Avoid lactic acid and glycolic acid, AHA (alpha hydroxy acid), and BHA (beta hydroxy acid). The EWG recommends avoiding products in this class altogether or at least using infrequently.
SUNLESS TANNING. Avoid coumarin and dihydroxy acetone. EWG recommends using products in this class infrequently, if at all, and using a sunscreen even though you look tan. Cosmetics, as a class, are not as potentially dangerous as drugs. Nevertheless, you should approach their purpose and use with caution, and not assume that some government regulator is looking out for you or that cosmetics are perfectly safe or perfectly harmless.