Purchasing skincare products can be a frustrating task. Not only do you want something that will work well, but you don’t want to use a product laden with harmful chemicals. As consumers, we need to be aware of what our products contain and look for ones that are good for our skin and our health.
The horrible fact is that we cannot rely on the FDA to correctly regulate what we purchase. The FDA regulations for skincare products only check that companies are putting the right ingredients and wording on their packaging. They do not restrict what goes inside that packaging.
We must research the harmful ingredients ourselves and carefully analyze each product’s ingredients label. We should not blindly trust that because a product is on the shelf at our local drug store, that that product is going to be safe for long-term use on our skin.
Skincare product companies use many different chemicals for many different purposes, all of this dictated by the consumer. We want things to have a long shelf life. We want the product to be visually attractive, and we want it to be a consistency that feels good and smells pleasant to our senses. All of these demands add more chemicals into the products we purchase.
Companies use preservatives (chemicals) to ensure their products last a long time on your bathroom shelf. Did you know that some companies use formaldehyde as a preservative? Formaldehyde is not something I want on my face while I’m still alive. They also use parabens to inhibit mold growth – but parabens have also been shown to cause breast cancer. I would gladly buy products in smaller amounts to avoid the need for preservatives and cancer.
If you see the word “fragrances” on a label, you should proceed with caution. Companies do not have to list what chemicals they add to come up with the product smell you want to buy. Not all of the ingredients in a “fragrance” recipe will be safe to put on your skin. Look for products that list the fragrances they use, or ones that use natural ingredients for their signature scent.
While we are a long way from pure transparency on the products we purchase, we are making strides. In an article by the Environmental Working Group at EWG.org, they outline how Proctor & Gamble will begin disclosing their fragrance ingredient list online. It will still take some research on the part of the consumer, but we are getting closer to being able to trust companies aren’t taking shortcuts to make a buck.
Not only are most chemicals harmful to our skin, but often combining different chemicals can have even worse effects. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are two of those chemicals. These are used in products to get them to foam. When combined with other chemicals, they can become a carcinogen – causing a good deal of damage to internal organs.
Chemicals to Avoid:
We don’t need to toss all of our products and make our own, but we do need to be smart about shopping for products that will benefit our skin and our health. By educating ourselves what chemicals to avoid, we can have gorgeous skin and reduce the harmful effects chemical loaded products can cause.
The best thing you can do for your skin, other than having a daily skincare routine, is to pay attention to what you are putting on it. Start reading labels, purchasing products with fewer chemicals, and being an advocate for transparent labeling.