Savvy consumers have been asking for non-toxic skincare for over a decade now.
The good news is that things have improved. More health-conscious companies are producing skin care products made with safe ingredients so that consumers have more choices today.
Unfortunately, there are many skincare products out there that still contain toxic ingredients.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and here at CV Skinlabs, we want to do our part. We regularly support cancer research and advocacy groups and all of our products are free from toxic chemicals.
But we also think it’s valuable to remind ourselves at this time of year about the toxic ingredients that are still out there. Don’t forget to read labels so you can make the healthiest choices for your skin.
Why Non-Toxic Skincare is Important
Though we’ve made some gains in using more natural ingredients in personal care products, we still have a long way to go. According to a recently published 12-year study of pregnant women, exposure to toxic chemicals is still increasing.
Researchers measured the amounts of 103 different chemicals in 171 pregnant women across the United States and Puerto Rico. All participants tested positive for at least one of the chemicals, and more than a third of them were found in a majority of the participants.
Prenatal exposure to industrial chemicals, according to the researchers, can come from the air, food, water, plastics, and other industrial and consumer products.
Many other studies have found similar results—that we are all carrying toxic chemicals inside us, and that many of us got them from our personal care products. In a 2015 study, researchers wrote that the development and use of synthetic chemicals “grew exponentially in the twentieth century to improve society’s quality of life. These changes brought a parallel widespread exposure to many of these chemicals used in personal care and consumer products…”
The researchers acknowledge that things have changed over the past two decades as we’ve learned more about the toxicity of these chemicals, but that exposure to chemicals in personal care and other consumer products is still prevalent among the general population.
Most personal care products, if they contain toxic ingredients, have only very small amounts of them. The problem is we use these products multiple times per day, every day for years. The concern is that repeated exposure may create cumulative damage over time.
The Search for Non-Toxic Skincare Products: 12 Ingredients to Avoid
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a consumer advocacy group, has a list of the “toxic 12 chemicals and contaminants in cosmetics” that are best to avoid. These have been linked to serious health problems, including allergies, skin irritation, eye and throat irritation, reproductive harm, birth defects, and even cancer.
The European Union and many other nations have banned these chemicals, but they are still legal for use in the U.S. Some store brands, however, including Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS Health have slated them for removal from their products.
Reading labels helps, but keep in mind that some of the chemicals on the list don’t have to be disclosed on the package. They may be components of “fragrance” and so are exempt from labeling requirements.
Manufacturers may include two phthalates, for example—plasticizing chemicals linked to diabetes and asthma—in chemical combinations used to create a fragrance so they may not appear on the ingredient list.
- Formaldehyde: a known carcinogen. May be found in hair straightening products, nail polish, eyelash glue, and other products.
- Paraformaldehyde: a type of formaldehyde.
- Methylene glycol: a type of formaldehyde.
- Quaternium 15: releases formaldehyde
- Mercury: can damage the kidneys and nervous system.
- Dibutyl and diethylexyl phthalates: disrupt hormones and damage the reproductive system. They may be often found in “fragrances,” eyelash adhesives, and nail polish.
- Isobutyl and isopropyl parabens: disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system.
- Long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS: linked to cancer.
- M- and o-phenylenediamine: used in hair dyes, which irritate and sensitize the skin, damage DNA, and may cause cancer.
Many of these are rarely used in personal care products, so if you buy from clean beauty brands you are likely to be able to avoid them.
The Search for Non-Toxic Skincare Products: Other Ingredients to Pass By
In addition to those ingredients listed above, there are some others as well that have been linked to health issues that are best avoided. These include the following:
- Formaldehyde releasers: These ingredients can also release formaldehyde as a by-product. They include bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, and imidazolidinyl urea.
- Synthetic fragrances: If the label reads “fragrance” or “parfum,” it often means that the manufacturer used a group of chemicals—often hundreds of them—to create that fragrance, and they need not disclose those fragrances.
- Polyethylene glycol (PEG): This could be petroleum-derived, and if so, may irritate the skin. It is a chemical thickener that may be found in cream-based products.
- Chemical sunscreens: Oxybenzone, a common chemical sunscreen ingredient, is a hormone disruptor. You may find it in sunscreens, lip balms, and lotions. Octinoxate, another chemical sunscreen, can be irritating to sensitive skin. Others include PABA, benzophenone, homosalate, and ethoxycinnamate. It’s always better to choose formulas with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
How to Find Non-Toxic Products
Reading labels help, but finding all the potential toxins can be difficult.
The best way to find clean beauty products is through responsible manufacturers. Online, look for sites that pride themselves on selling organic, natural, and non-toxic products.
Of course, you can purchase anything from CV Skinlabs and rest easy knowing that it is free from toxic ingredients.
It is very important to us to make sure our products are not only supremely effective, but safe, non-irritating, and beneficial to skin. We never compromise or take short cuts.
When developing the brand, we went the extra mile, insisting on the utmost in safety by toxicologically reviewing every ingredient before clearing it for use in our formulas to ensure a “clean” assessment.
That means we eliminated any potentially harmful chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, or any other potentially harmful or irritating ingredients. This was the only way to ensure our products are truly safe.
And because we help treat sensitive and compromised skin, we also made sure every ingredient is biocompatible, working with the skin (not against it) helping skin recover its natural balance and comfort.
For the month of October, for every purchase on our website, we will donate a portion of the proceeds to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP).
This is a leading science-based policy and advocacy organization. They focus on preventing breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation.
BCPP works in close partnership with leaders from the environmental health and justice communities, scientists, health care and business professionals, policymakers, and individuals to eliminate toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.
How do you find your best non-toxic skincare products?