What Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skincare Products Part 2

Now that you know what to look for from our first post on What Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skincare Products let’s learn some more about what to avoid in your products and why

4) Phthalates

One of the most common offenders in skin care products. It can be hidden under the label “fragrance”, as fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets and do not have to be disclosed. Phthalates can also be used in creams and lotions as emulsifying agents (emulsifying agents are substances that facilitate the mixing of oil and water). A natural emulsifiers to look for in your product is vegetable emulsifying wax. The phthalates most commonly found in personal care products are: diethyl phthalate (DEP) found in deodorant, hair spray, hair mousse, hand and body lotions. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) deodorant, fragrance, hair spray. Butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) fragrance and hair spray, Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) fragrance and Dimetyl phthalate (DMP) in deodorant. Besides choosing 100% natural products, one way to reduce exposure to phthalates is to choose unscented products or products that are scented only with essential oils.

5) Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

The top offenders are: DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. The purpose of these ingredients is to slowly release formaldehyde into the product to act as a preservative. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. The best way to avoid exposure to formaldehyde is to choose 100% natural products.

6) Parabens

Are the most widely used preservative in cosmetics. Look for methylparaben, butylparaben, benzylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben and propylparaben. Parabens are difficult to avoid in conventional skin care products. Parabens, like phthalates, are commonly hidden in products under the umbrella term of “fragrance”. Parabens are easily absorbed through the skin and have an affinity for fatty tissues such as the breast. They also have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body and are classified as a hormone disruptor. Dr Philippa Darbre is one of the key researchers in this field. Her 2004 study found parabens in human breast tumour samples. 

7) Fragrance (Parfum)

Fragrances are a complex mixture of chemicals and as they are a “secret recipe” they do not have to be disclosed. Fragrances are part of a variety of different personal care products from lotion, to hairspray, to deodorant. One trick of the industry is just because something is labeled as “fragrance-free” does not mean that it does not contain fragrance, it could still be there in smaller amounts to mask the smell of the other chemicals in the product.

 8) Polyethylene Glycol (PEGs)

These are petroleum based compounds that help to make creams thicker, and increase the ability to moisturize. Polyethylene glycol is problematic because it is frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. Dioxane is a possible human carcinogen and it easily penetrates the skin. Another glycol to be aware of is propylene glycol, it is a chemical that increases penetration into the skin of product. When coupled with dangerous chemicals this increases the chances that the chemicals will be absorbed into the body.

Stay tuned for the final 4 ingredients to avoid!

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Dr. Alexis


Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

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