Part two: The WHAT
This month we are highlighting healthy skin, including skincare basics, healthy skin care products, food and skin and more. This is part two of a three-part series going in-depth on the topic of toxic skincare products, including why it’s important to choose healthy skincare products, ingredients to be aware of, and resources to help you choose safe, healthy skin care products for you and your family.
PART TWO: THE WHAT
As explained in my previous blog, your skin absorbs up to 60% of what you apply to it, and serves in some cases as a direct route to your blood. Chemicals in skin care products can bioaccumulate, or store and accumulate in your body over time, potentially causing hormone disruption, inflammation, weight gain and increased cancer risk. Unfortunately, the FDA does not require proof of safety before cosmetics and other skincare products reach the market, so you need to be your own advocate to protect yourself and your family!
There are so many potentially toxic ingredients in skin care products that I had trouble choosing which ones to feature! I’ve chosen three of the most pervasive, and potentially most dangerous chemicals for today’s blog, and I provide links to articles I used in my research with more extensive information should you choose to read more!
Parabens serve as preservatives in a wide variety of skincare products. Parabens are everywhere, and it’s likely that most of us have been exposed to Parabens through a number of different products throughout our lifetime. Some researchers have estimated that some 90 percent of typical grocery items contain measurable amounts of parabens. Scary!
The main concern with Parabens is that they have hormone-mimicking and estrogenic properties. This means that they can act like estrogen in the body, competing with naturally-produced estrogen and binding to estrogen receptors on cells. This can potentially create an “estrogen overload” effect in the body, which may increase the risk of hormonally-driven cancers like Breast Cancer and fuel other hormone-mediated conditions such as endometriosis.
Ingredient Keywords: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben
Phthalates serve as plasticizers They are used to make skincare products flexible and better able to hold color and scent.
The concern with Phthalates is that they belong to a group of chemicals referred to as endocrine disrupters, which means they have the potential to disrupt your hormones. Phthalates have been shown to reduce fertility in both men and women, reduce testosterone production in men, reduce egg quality and quantity in women, and are associated with endometriosis.
How to find them? You can look for phthalates on labels, but unfortunately, you won't always find them. The FDA does not require manufacturers to list every ingredient in proprietary fragrances, so they may be hidden in the term ‘fragrance/parfum’.
Triclosan is added to a variety of skin care products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. Exposure to Triclosan is so pervasive that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it can be found in the urine of 75 percent of all U.S. residents, as well as in plasma and breast milk.
There are a variety of concerns with Triclosan. Not only does it function as an endocrine disruptor (like phthalates), it also promotes antibiotic resistance, has been shown to be a skin irritant, and is considered to be carcinogenic, increasing the risk of certain cancers. In addition, Triclosan has been shown to have a negative environmental impact, most notably in aquatic ecosystems.
While the FDA banned the use of Triclosan in over-the-counter antiseptic soaps, gels and wipes ion 2016, it is still in widespread use in personal care products like toothpastes, shampoos, and deodorants.
Look for “Triclosan” directly on your label.
Looking for more information? Check out these resources:
Sara Gottfried, MD: Ten Toxic Ingredients That Might Be in Your Skin Care (And What to Use Instead).
MindBodyGreen: 12 Toxic Ingredients to AVOID in Cosmetics & Skin Care Products
Andrew Weil, MD: What's Wrong With Triclosan?
Scientific American: Should People be Concerned about Parabens in Beauty Products?