Years ago when I started down the nutrition path, I truly believed that eating healthfully was one-and-only direct path to health and wellness. I learned over the years that health is not only about eating whole foods, but a fuller picture that also incorporates mindfulness, exercise and reducing regular environmental exposure. And that includes our beauty products.
After years of traveling the country I finally found a functional medicine doctor to help me find answers to my debilitating pain, and those included Systemic Mastocytosis—an incurable disease that can lead to organ failure, cancer and anaphylactic shock—high levels of heavy metals, activated epstein-barr virus, lyme and irritable bowel syndrome. It was both overwhelming and motivating—and I set out to reduce my toxic overload, including what came from my beauty products. While I did a complete overhaul, rest assured you don’t need to go and throw all your makeup and skincare out at once. Simply swapping out one or two items can make a world of difference. In terms of priorities, here’s a gang of eight top-offenders you can look to eliminate from your skin care regimen:
- FRAGRANCE: This is by far one of the most toxic ingredients on any label—and it’s the sneakiest. These engineered scents contain any combination of 3,000+ chemicals and are linked to SO many health conditions, including hormone disruption, kidney damage and skin sensitivities. Try to find products with only essential oils.
- MEA (Monoethanolamine), DEA (Diethanolamine), or TEA (Triethanolamine): Found in shampoo, conditioner and body wash, these are chemical preservatives and they literally irritate your skin and body. Look for them under their aliases: Cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA-Cetyl Phosphate, DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate, Lauramide DEA, Linoleamide MEA, Myristamide DEA, Oleamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, TEA-Lauryl Sulfate, Triethanolamine
- BENZYL SALICYLATE: Lurking in most makeups and perfumes, this chemical acts as an endocrine disruptor, immune system toxicant and allergen.
- PEG COMPOUNDS: Widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners and moisture-carriers, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both carcinogens. Why risk it?
- PROPYLENE GLYCOL: This chemical is really good at binding water—so it’s in fragrance, moisturizers and hair products to help retain moisture. But it’s really bad for your health (did I mention it’s in antifreeze?). It’s also everywhere—LUSH cosmetics alone uses it in over 65 of its products.
- PHTHALATES: These plasticizing chemicals are used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. As a side effect, they disrupt the endocrine system and may even cause birth defects.
- WATER: Wait…what? Okay, water itself is not a contaminate but when it’s used as an ingredient it comes with a load of preservatives, added to prevent bacterial growth but also adding health risks like hormone disruption and cancer.
- TALC: Often contaminated with asbestos (a highly toxic mineral), talc’s many health concerns include skin irritations, organ system toxicity, respiratory distress and serious cancer risks.