When was the last time you thought about the chemicals that are in your beauty products? You might be shocked to realize that there are thousands of them in the substances you put on your skin and hair — many of which are absorbed into your body.
What’s worse, the beauty industry is also largely unregulated. CNBC reports that after more than a century of lax policing, the FDA conducted its very first in-depth survey into the safety and manufacturing processes of beauty companies just last year. To date, there is no extensive pre-product approval process to screen skincare, makeup, and haircare products before they hit the shelves and make it to your bathroom. And for those that do undergo screening, it’s mostly for colorants and a select few ingredients.
This poses a problem to users everywhere, as these chemicals can have drastic effects on your health. Many are actually skin irritants and even endocrine disrupters that can cause effects ranging from rashes and boils to even increased risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. These harmful consequences lead to even more demand for products to help counter these issues, but it can also worsen existing public health trends. In fact, Maryville University reveals that an estimated 164 million Americans will suffer from chronic illnesses by 2025. Chronic illnesses like heart disease and other cardiovascular problems are seeing an uptick across the country, something that products as seemingly innocuous as your favorite toner, shampoo, or moisturizer might just be contributing to.
That said, it’s become more important than ever to look for chemical-free beauty products to ensure your safety and wellness. If you have yet to start building your all-natural routine, so here are four of the most toxic chemicals you need to avoid.
ParabensPerhaps the most notorious chemical on this list and the beauty industry in general is paraben. Bouclème founder Michelle Scott-Lynch defines parabens as a type of preservative meant to prolong the shelf life of many beauty and health products.
Although this substance does make sure that your favorite shampoo, hair mask, or styling gel lasts longer against bacteria and fungus, parabens can make your hair dry, brittle, and prone to damage. What’s even worse is that parabens have also been found to enter your body through your skin and remain within your skin’s tissue. There, they will disrupt hormone function by mimicking estrogen, which, in turn, leads to an increase in breast cell division and growth of tumors — one of the main reasons why the chemical has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.
FormaldehydeYou may not know it, but your mascara, nail polish, and cleansers, have formaldehyde in them. Like paraben, it acts as a preservative to prevent bacteria growth. However, experts have found formaldehyde to be a carcinogen and an irritant that can cause allergic reactions. It can also be very harmful to your immune system.
Many commercial haircare products are known to have formaldehyde, so when it comes to taking care of your hair and face, it’s best to choose products made from natural ingredients as much as possible. When it comes to taking care of your hair, you can follow our Complete Guide to Transitioning to Natural Hair, which includes chemical-free ways to take care of your locks.
Phthalates are found everywhere, from shower curtains, toys, and glue, down to insect repellent, and other things you use on a daily basis, like shampoo. Phthalates commonly make your shampoo and hairspray smell nice, and it’s always tempting to go with products that smell good. However, not only can phthalates ruin your hair and make it very brittle, but it’s important to note that they’re also known as "plasticizers" for a reason — and that’s because they were actually designed to make plastic more flexible and harder to break.
Moreover, The Guardian points out that prolonged exposure to this harmful chemical can lead to reproductive and genital defects, lower sperm count, disrupted hormones, and infertility. It can also increase the chances of a miscarriage and gestational diabetes in pregnant women. Moreover, researches from the George Washington University confirmed that frequent exposure to phthalates can lead to increased blood pressure in teens and coronary risks in the elderly.
SulfateThis ingredient is a known skin, eye, mouth, and lung irritant, which makes it incredibly dangerous for people with very sensitive skin. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium dodecyl sulfate, which tend to be present in many commercial shampoos, are chemical foaming agents. Low concentrations are okay, but frequent use and high concentration can cause cell damage and excessive stripping away of the natural oils and proteins in your hair.
If your scalp is sensitive, sulfates can also cause irritation like redness, dryness, and itching. And for those who enjoy coloring their hair, sulfates can quickly minimize the quality of the applied hair color.
Given the above, being more mindful about the ingredients you are applying your skin and hair regularly can do a world of good for your health. Switching to products based on natural ingredients like coconut oil can be a great choice for your long-term wellness, and the small investment in research will be priceless in the future.
Feature specially written for naturalhair.org
Feature by: JBaldridge
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Thank you for this blog! Most people are unaware of the ingredients in cosmetics and hair products. I recently returned three make-up items because it contained the ingredient phenoyethanol, which is harmful if swallowed, inhaled or obsored through the skin especially to nursing mothers or infants. This was in the foundation, lipstick and mascara that I purchased as all naturl. A products my be sold as all natural mineral base, but if you do not read what that product contains you will never know the harmful ingredients you are applying to your skin.
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