7 Common Ingredients Damaging Your Skin

There are countless moisturizers, cleansers, toners, and eye creams promising clear complexions and a natural glow. But, if your skin care contains these common ingredients, you may actually be causing damage instead of creating healthy, nourished skin.  Whether you’re spending $5 or $100, if your products contain any of these seven ingredients, it’s time to choose safer skin care.

The skin is the body’s largest organ, and some of what goes onto it is also absorbed into it.  So, in addition to harmful effects on your skin, some of these ingredients may also have negative affects on your endocrine, reproductive, and digestive systems.

Regardless of marketing hype, check your skin care labels, and leave any with the following ingredients behind on the shelf.

  1. Parabens/Phthalates: Used to prohibit mold growth, parabens and phthalates are unfortunate common skin care ingredients. Sure, a longer shelf life may be advantageous for the manufacturer, but parabens/phthalates are hormone disrupters imitating estrogen and have been linked to breast and testicular cancer. They can also cause skin rashes and allergic responses. Double check your labels; even though a product may claim phthalate-free, they be lurking under the ingredient “Fragrance.” Parabens & phthalates are banned in the EU.
  1. Fragrance/Parfum: Added scents to skin care may be popular, but they’re also dangerous. Synthetic fragrances are a blend created from hundreds of possible chemicals. Since this blend is considered “proprietary,” which chemical is causing headaches, rashes, or allergies isn’t known. Likewise, synthetic fragrances have been linked to skin irritations, migraines, allergies, cancer, and respiratory/nervous system damage. Check your labels: even products listed as “unscented” may still contain Fragrance or Parfum.
  1. Mineral Oil/Paraffin: Both are petroleum by-product ingredients used to “moisturize” skin. Though they’re water-resistant and said to prevent moisture loss, they actually create a barrier for the skin. This prevents allowing the pores to “breathe” and, instead, clogs pores increasing likelihood of blackheads and breakouts. Also, since mineral oil and paraffin are petroleum by-products, they are susceptible to contamination and they provide no nourishment or benefits for the skin.
  1. Benzoyl Peroxide: Though commonly used to treat acne, benzoyl peroxide is not only harmful on a short-term basis but long-term as well. Benzoyl peroxide strips the skin of its natural sebum necessary for healing and protection. Dry, flaky, irritated skin are common reactions while in use. Prolonged use, however, increases free-radicals within the body which promotes tumor growth, increased risk for cancer, and premature aging of the skin. Banned in the EU.
  1. Ethanolamines (MEA/TEA/DEA): Though you may find their full names- monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, and triethanolamine- listed in the ingredients of facial cleansers, body washes, and cosmetics (as well as some pesticides), their abbreviations (MEA/DEA/TEA) are more typical. While they’re declared “safe” when rinsed-off the body, prolonged use increases risk for cancer, liver/kidney toxicity, and nervous system damage. Due to their ammonia compounds, skin burns, respiratory illnesses, and allergic responses are also common side-effects.
  1. PEG’s (polyethylene glycols): Another petroleum by-product, PEG’s are often used in skin care creams. Like parabens/paraffin, PEG’s also create a barrier on the skin eliminating moisture loss, but act as a suffocating barrier. There is a high contamination risk during production that increases exposure of ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane: a known carcinogen and possible carcinogen respectively.
  1. Sulfates (sodium laurel sulfate (SLS)/ sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)): Associate foam and suds associated “clean?” Not anymore. Sulfates are created, once-again, by petroleum by-products. While SLS and SLES give us bubbles, they can also provide skin irritation, brittle hair, lung irritation, and kidney damage. And, 1,4 dioxane- a possible carcinogen- is often a by-product of SLES.

Though some ingredients are deemed “safe” in trace amounts, when they’re found in multiple daily-use products (in addition to others outside of the skin care category), exposure is no longer minute. Daily toxins accumulate in the body damaging the skin and  increasing susceptibility to illness. Avoiding these seven ingredients is a safer start. You can further maintain the skin’s youthful suppleness and natural glow by choosing skin care with plant-based and nature-derived ingredients. If we consider our skin care food for our skin, selecting ingredients that nourish the tissue is essential. Controlling which ingredients you’ll allow on your body ensures that your skin care not only promotes gorgeous skin but also a healthy body.