Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ingredients in Cosmetics I Watch Out For

I have a gal pal who I religiously consult when I want to try a new product.  I literally name the product and she goes on a discovery expedition to find out what the ingredients are.  If the product has ingredients she disapproves of, I will not purchase the product or return it if I've already purchased it.

EVEN IF a product is listed as au naturele, my gal pal and I still make a conscious effort to look over the ingredients because ingredients like mineral oil and talc are natural but are still linked to harmful effects.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a scientist, chemist, doctor, etc. so if you have any light to shed or updated information to share on these ingredients, please feel free to do so.  This is a friendly forum meant to discuss ideas and disseminate information so let's please be cognizant of that.

Here are ingredients that I watch out for when shopping for cosmetics and skin care products:

1. Parabens: A preservative used to prevent microbial growth BUT has been controversially linked to breast cancer tumors.  It can disrupt hormone function that is linked to breast cancer tumors.  Parabens can also be a skin irritant causing allergic reactions.

2. Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum): A liquid by product of the distillation of petroleum, industrial plants use mineral oil as a lubricant for parts (such as inside cars) and textiles.  While it is an emollient, there has been evidence that it has a carcinogenic effect (2008 study by Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University).  It also may clog pores causing acne break outs.  While there is literature that states that the highly refined and purified mineral oil found in cosmetics and skin care products is noncomedogenic, I still won't put this on my face if I can help it.

3. Talc: A mineral mainly made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, talc in its natural form may contain asbestos.  It has been suspected of possibly promoting cancers of the ovaries and lungs.

4. Sulfates: A group of detergents found in hair and skin products.  The most commonly used sulfates are sodium laurlyl sulfate (SLS), sodium dodecyl (SDS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).  SLS has been shown to cause eye damage, cancer, and is also a skin irritant.  Most commercial toothpastes contain SLS.  A major brand that I'm aware of that doesn't contain SLS is Sensodyne.

5. Synthetic Fragrances: Unfortunately, because fragrances is considered a trade secret, cosmetic companies are not mandated to disclose their use of synthetic fragrances in products.  They can cause allergic reactions and can trigger/cause asthma.  I suffer from asthma so I need to watch for this in products I purchase.  The best thing to do is to choose products with no added fragrance.

6. Synthetic Dyes: The most common synthetic dyes in cosmetics are derived from coal tar, a by product of petroleum.  See the discussion under mineral oil as to why I avoid petroleum.

7. Petrochemicals: These are chemicals derived from petroleum.  Again, see the discussion under mineral oil to understand why I avoid this.

8. Phthalates: Linked to hormone disruption, this plasticizer (substance added to plastic to increase flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity) has also been linked to breast cancer and endocrine disruption.

9. GMOs (genetically modified organisms): In some cosmetics, there are derivatives from from genetically modified organisms (plants/animals).  These are considered a health risk because of the fact that the ingredients do not occur naturally - nature is being tampered with.

10. Triclosan: A bactericide that unfortunately has been linked to heart disease, heart failure, and hormone irregularity.  It also has been linked to impairing muscle function and skeletal muscle contractility.  It was also initially registered as a pesticide in 1969.

Again, these are just ingredients I personally watch out for.  I'm aware there are literature out there that will say otherwise in terms of the health risks these ingredients may or may not have.  I'm just sharing with you all MY personal preference when it comes to what products I put onto my skin.

I've stopped using some of the cosmetics and or skin products I have as a result of the ingredients listed above.  Likewise, I've stopped myself from purchasing a number of products (even holy grails in the makeup world) because of the above listed ingredients.

Hope you enjoyed this post!


  1. Such useful info, I've been wondering what some of these are. Thank you!