Harmful & Controversial Skincare Ingredients

It's widely known that some chemicals in everyday products don't mean you any good. Some not only cause skin irritations, but also disruptions in the endocrine system, ultimately affecting your hormones. While these chemicals don't affect everyone the same, they can very much cause some people's hormones to misfire, become imbalanced, or ineffective. Some ingredients have enough scientific evidence to prove that we need to steer clear, but the jury is still out on others.

 

1. Fragrance or Parfum- Often a protected formula that may contain formaldehyde or phthalates. Formaldehyde has traditionally been used during the embalming process, and phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastic and vinyl.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , "Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers." 

Although companies are required by law to include their full list of ingredients, "fragrance" or "perfume" is one ingredient that seems to have found a loophole


2. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

SLS can be either synthetic or produced naturally, and is used to create a nice foam and later in products. According to the Environmental Working Group, SLS is a "moderate hazard" that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption. However, the NCBI reports that SLS is a safe surfactant, and not pose a danger to human health or safety. This one seems to be up in the air.

 

3. Oxybenzone and Octinoxate

This is an organic compound used as a sunscreen agent. Earlier this month (May 2018), Hawaiian lawmakers passed a bill that bans the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing octinoxate and oxybenzone because they are believed, among other things, to harm coral reefs (and the human body, right?!). Scientific studies have shown that these two ingredients have the potential directly affect your endocrine system. In review of information from the CDC, increased levels of oxybenzone in young boys showed lower testosterone levels. It has also shown to result in weak estrogen, and birth defects. The Environmental Working Group has given oxybenzone a hazard score of 8, which is highly toxic.


4. Ethanolamine (also known as monoethanolamine or MEA)

Used as emulsifiers or foaming agents in cosmetics. According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, ethanol amine may cause damage to your lungs, kidneys, and in extreme cases, your nervous system. It is a known skin and eye irritant, and is on the Hazardous Substance List. The National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that monoethanolamine is a severe eye irritant when tested on rabbits (which is absolutely horrible).


5. Diethylene glycol

This chemical is flat out poisonous, and often used as an ingredient in fragrances and perfum, or as a humectant (in skin moisturizers). The vapors are known to be severe eye irritants, but isn't known to cause all-out damage to any bodily systems, such as hormonal damage. However, ingesting this chemical could make you ill, or can cause death in severe cases.


6. Pesticides

These are substances used to kill pests, such as bugs and weeds on cultivated plants. Pesticides can be absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream. The amount and type of pesticides you've come into contact with, as well as how sensitive your skin is will depend on the amount irritation caused. In sever cases, death may result. Pesticides can cause itching, redness, blisters, pain, and more. A few years ago while eating some washed grapes at home, I noticed my throat began to itch and seemed to close. I knew I wasn't allergic to grapes, and couldn't figure out why this was happening all of a sudden. Turns out I was having an allergic reaction to the pesticides used on the grapes. Even though I had washed them off, it wasn't enough. That was a pretty scary eye opener.

 

Which ingredients could you add to this list? Do you have any personal experiences with harmful and/or controversial skincare ingredients?


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