Ingredients We Avoid

  • Fact: 80% of the chemicals in our personal care products have never been tested for safety.
  • Fact: The most recent law passed by the federal government to regulate the personal care industry was in 1938.
  • Fact: While the European Union has banned over 1,300 ingredients in personal care products, the United States has banned… drumroll please…11.
  • Fact: We are here to do something about it, even if it’s helping only one man or woman learn about these harmful ingredients.

So we’ve established that there some unregulated chemicals floating around in our products… could they really cause any serious damage?  Let’s put it this way- our skin is our largest organ, so it couldn’t hurt to eliminate some of these ingredients; more specifically- ingredients that cause endocrine disruption.

What on earth is endocrine disruption? Let’s leave it to our girl Gregg Renfew, founder of Beautycounter, to give it to us straight:

“The endocrine system is incredibly complex and important: It’s responsible for regulating everything from our mood, to our reproductive processes, to our growth and development, to our sexual function and metabolism. Exposure to endocrine (or hormone disruptors) is particularly scary because they’re so potent in small doses, as they mimic the hormones that our bodies produce in small amounts every day. Endocrine disrupting chemicals can lead to reproductive problems, metabolic issues, cancer, birth defects, and other devastating disorders.”

Now that we know what we’re looking out for, let’s evaluate some major no-no’s.

1. Parabens

Parabens are used as preservatives to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeasts.  They are commonly labeled as methylparaben, propylparaben, methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate, propyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate, and any word ending in “paraben.”  You have probably seen them in your makeup, shampoo, sunscreen, deodorant, or even gum… ew.

“Parabens are known endocrine disruptors that can mimic estrogen in the body. Several studies have shown that parabens can affect the mechanisms of normal breast cells and potentially influence their abnormal growth, leading to increased risk for breast cancer.” -Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

The most vulnerable individuals to the harmful effects of parabens are pregnant women and young children.  Both the European commission and Denmark have completely banned several parabens, so I would say it’s better safe than sorry with these bad boys!

2. Fragrance

Fragrance (or parfum) is basically a freebie to allow suppliers to protect the “secret” of what goes into their product.  Suppliers are not required to give any information  to consumers, manufacturers, or regulators about their fragrance ingredients.

“As a result, fragrance can – and does – contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic chemicals, sensitizers, asthmagens and allergens. These ingredients can lead to serious short- and long-term health impacts and yet they don’t even appear on product labels.” – Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

3. Phthalates

Phthalates (how do you even pronounce that…) are used to soften and improve the durability of plastics.  Cleeeaaarly they have an important place in our moisturizers

“Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, and exposure to phthalates has been linked to breast cancer, developmental issues, decreased fertility, obesity and asthma. Although some regulations ban phthalates in certain products intended specifically for young children, they are still widely used in many consumer products.” – Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

To avoid extra exposure to phthalates (disguised as DBP, DEHP, and DEP), try to minimize your use of plastics– glass containers instead of plastic tupperware, stainless tumblers instead of plastic water bottles, etc.

4. Formaldehyde

How is it possible that this carcinogen even exists in personal care products?  Formaldehyde is linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.  You can find it hiding in labels under quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, or 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol.

How about I make it easier? If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not good for you.

5. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS)

SLS is essentially used to make products “foamy,” so you can find them in shampoos, soaps, face wash, toothpaste, and more.  It allows chemicals to enter our system more easily by altering our skin’s structure.  When SLS was tested on animals, it caused eye damage, depression, skin irritation, labored breathing, diarrhea, and death.  Young children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of SLS because exposure can cause underdevelopment of the eyes.

There are a handful of additional ingredients that we avoid, but that will be another post, another time;).  If you are interested in learning more about these additional ingredients, Beautycounter has a fantastic list (here).


Thank you for stopping by!





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