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The Top 20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products

By Thepickyeater @pickyeaterblog
The Top 20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products

As many of you know, I am very passionate about the ingredients that go into the food we eat, and am constantly disappointed at the FDA's willingness to allow certain ingredients in our food. It is still unbelievable to me how ingredients that are banned in Europe are still allowed in food products in the US. And if you have a little one, you probably have come across my baby formula investigation because it's ridiculous what's allowed in some of the first foods that our little ones are exposed to!

After realizing the truth about what's in our food, I began asking the question about what's going on with our cosmetic and personal care products. And if you thought the FDA does an inadequate job in regulating what goes into our food, you'll be just as appalled as I was on its regulation of what goes into our beauty products (for both adults and kids!)

This industry is a mess: it's unregulated, the process for approval before a product goes on the market is minimal and limited, and many of the chemicals in beauty products are skin irritants, allergens, skin penetrators, endocrine disruptors and are carcinogenic. There are so many harmful chemicals out there, it's hard to know what to prioritize, so I've done the research for you! Here are my Top 20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products today (and what products to buy instead!)

The Top 20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products
So to start, here is just a list of the ingredients to avoid:
  1. Dibutyl phthalate
  2. BHT / BHA
  3. Siloxanes
  4. Parabens
  5. PEG Compound & Glycols
  6. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)
  7. Coal tar dyes
  8. DEA-related ingredients
  9. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
  10. Petrolatum
  11. SLS/SLES
  12. Triclosan
  13. Oxybenzone & Octinoxate
  14. Retinyl palmitate
  15. Isobutan
  16. Talc
  17. Mineral Oil
  18. Aluminum & metals
  19. Methylisothiazolinone (M1) and other "isothiazolinones"
  20. Nanoparticles (pulverized metals like zinc and titanium

But all of these ingredients are a little bit different in terms of their risk level, and in terms of what issues they cause! So below I have a chart with more details on how risky these ingredients are, whether they are a known carcinogen or endocrine disruptor (which can mess with brain/nervous system development, reproductive system function and hormone levels, and metabolism/thyroid/adrenal function), and where they are commonly found. And below that I have a second chart with even more details on why each ingredient is harmful (for those of you who nerd out on ingredient lists like I do!)

The Top 20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products
For even more details...
The Top 20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products
So what should you buy instead??

The #1 Company I have found where their ENTIRE line of skin care, body care and beauty products are all clean and free of every single one of these harmful ingredients isPure Haven. They are on a mission to create safe, natural products that work just as well (or better!) than the mass-market brands but aren't exposing you to toxins on a daily basis! Their manufacturing facility is UDSA certified organic for food-grade, and are shipped fresh (within just a few weeks of being made).I also like that their products are affordable and similar to the cost of anything I'd buy at Whole Foods or a natural foods store. They also have a 60 day money back guarantee, even if you've used the product. No other company comes close!!

This is especially true for all skin care products: exfoliators, cleansers, eye creams, moisturizers, face masks, etc. there is no brand better than Pure Haven. But if you're in a bind and need to buy like a quick body wash/shampoo from Whole Foods, here are three other brands that are decent (but not free of every chemical on the list above: most of their products still have fragrance, potassium sorbate - a preservative, sodium benzoate - which, when mixed with vitamin C it forms benzene which is a carcinogen, or sodium lauryl on the list and may not have 100% organic ingredients):

Avalon Organics: Their shower gel, shampoo and lotion

Babo Botanicals: Their baby body wash/shampoo, their regular body wash, their baby lotion and regular lotion.

California Baby (marketed for kids but adults can use it too 🙂 ): Their creams, shampoo and body wash, and lotion.

Other general tips:
  1. For any product you have questions about, go to the EWG's database and the safecostmetics site.
  2. Buy your products online! So many more options than at the drugstore and you don't have to go to multiple stores to buy all of your products.
  3. Adopt a minimalist approach to your beauty routine - do you really need all 5 products that you currently use for your hair or face? Or would pairing down to 1-2 great products save you money, time and reduce your exposure to harmful toxins?

If you swap out just 8-10 of your daily routine products you could greatly reduce your exposure from 300 hazardous chemicals to almost zero. I hope this post was helpful in breaking down the ingredients in beauty products today and helps you to find safer options for you and your family. If you have any questions about any of this, you can leave a comment below or email me at [email protected] I respond to every single message and comment I get!

Sources: David Suzuki Foundation Dirty Dozen List, Environmental Working Group, EWG Skin Deep Database

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