Justine Lassoff

Posted on February 03 2016

Did you know there are toxins in many beauty and skincare products that may be in your daily routine?
As cofounder of LOVE GOODLY, an important part of my job is to help curate the best nontoxic beauty and skincare products. Like most women, you may have assumed your beauty products are all safe.
But did you know that 89% of 10,500 ingredients used in beauty and personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the FDA? Europe has already banned over 1300 chemicals from beauty and personal care products, while the US has only banned 9 ingredients.
Up to 60% of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream. A European Commission study on how much lipstick is absorbed with each application, although a small amount, added up over a woman’s lifetime comes to 3.7 pounds.
One study found most makeup tested was contaminated with heavy metals like lead, while another found that the most commonly used preservative, paraben, is shown be linked to breast cancer.  And the average woman uses 168 chemicals in their personal care every day according to the Environmental Working Group's study.
The good news is a recent UC Berkeley study showed that switching cosmetics can quickly lead to a drop in hormone-disrupting chemicals in women's bodies.
So read on for help decoding the jargon and finding out what toxins might be in your everyday beauty routine - your body will thank you for it with a healthy, natural glow!
Check out the top 10 toxins to avoid:
1. Parabens:
Any word with the prefixes Ethyl, Methyl, Butyl, Isobutyl, and Propyl  
Found in: makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos, facial cleansers.  Women are exposed to 50mg of parabens per day from cosmetics alone.
Health Risks: Linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity. A known endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen.
2. Coal tar dyes:
Found in: Shampoos and scalp treatments, soaps, hair dyes, and lotions.
Health Risks: suspected human carcinogens, skin irritants, linked to ADHD in children, may be contaminated with heavy metals, and linked to tumor growth. They are derived from coal tar sources - our EPA considers it a human carcinogen - and it is banned in the EU and Canada.
3. Fragrance/Parfum:
Known as: A catchall for hidden chemicals, such as phthalates, DEHP, DEP, DHP, DBP5, Dibutyl Phthalate. 3,000+ chemicals are used as fragrance. Phthalates are regularly labeled “fragrance” and are considered endocrine disruptors
Health Risks: linked to hormone disruption, possible birth defects, infertility, breast and liver cancer, allergies, and asthma.
4. Triclosan:
Found in: Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers, antiperspirants facial tissues, mouthwash, and cosmetics.
Health risks: Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
5. Petroleum Based Products
Known as: Polyethylene glycol (PEG, PPG, Cocoate), Propylene glycol, Butylene glycol, poyoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene mineral oil, 1,2-dihydroxypropane; 2-hydroxypropanol; methylethyl glycol, 1,2-prpanediol, propane-1,2-diol .
Found in: lotions, deodorants, toothpastes, sunscreens, makeup, conditioners, shampoo, hair sprays, baby wipes, and also used in laxatives.
Health Risks: considered carcinogens, linked to liver and kidney effects, allergic reactions, hives, skin irritation, heart damage, and considered a neurotoxin. Propylene Glycol: used in anti-freeze, brake & hydraulic fluids and solvents.
6. Formaldehyde
Known as: Dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM), imidazolidinyl urea, and diazolidynyl urea being the biggest perpetrators, along with methanamine, quarternium-15, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol), glyoxal and oxaldehyde.
Found in: cosmetics to prevent bacteria growth, nail polish, body wash, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, eyelash glue, as well as toilet bowl cleaners and plastics.
Health Risks: considered a carcinogen, and may be harmful to the immune system. Linked to hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia, asthma, and allergic skin reactions.
7. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Found in: shampoos, cleansers, toothpastes, acne treatments, mascara, and things that foam. A former industrial degreaser now used to make soap foamy, it’s absorbed into the body and irritates skin.
Health Risks: include dryness, skin irritation, lung and eye irritant, and is rapidly absorbed in eyes, brain, heart, and liver. SLS has the potential to interact with other chemicals to form nitrosamines (a carcinogen). Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer.
8. DEA, TEA, MEA, and Nitrosamines
Found in: almost every type of personal care product - baby shampoo, shaving cream, moisturizers, mascara, foundation, fragrances, sunscreens, shampoo, soaps, and cleansers.
Health Risks: skin and eye irritant, endocrine disruptor, asthma, sore throat, possible birth defects, high doses shown to cause liver cancers and precancerous changes in skin and thyroid, and can become nitrosamines which can damage your liver and kidneys with repeated exposure. Banned in Canada and the EU.
9. Heavy Metals
Known as: Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic, Nickel, lead acetate, thimerosal, mercurius solubilis, mercurius sublimates, mercurius corrosives, mercuric chloride
Found in: hair color, lipstick, and mascara.
Health Risks: considered a neurotoxin, memory loss, nerve, joint, and muscle disorders, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, lung damage, and hair loss. Lead: Known carcinogen found in lipstick and hair dye, but not listed because it’s a contaminant. Mercury: Known allergen that impairs brain development. Found in mascara.
10. Siloxanes
Known as: cyclotetrasiloxane and cylcopentasiloxane — also known as D4 and D5. Look for ingredients ending in "-siloxane" or "-methicone." Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) silicone polymers are produced from D4 and contain residual amounts of D4 and D5. Dimethicone is a common PDMS ingredient in cosmetics.
Found in: silicone-based compounds used in hair products, deodorant, moisturizers and facial treatments.
Health risks:  an endocrine disruptor, uterine tumors, harm to the reproductive and immune systems.
What Can You Do?
Avoid these toxins by checking the ingredients of the products you use.  If you can’t afford to do it all at once, replace as you run out. An easy way to do this is the LOVE GOODLY subscription box service that helps you discover nontoxic beauty, skincare and personal care products delivered to your door.
Check out other websites to get more information including the nonprofit which has created the Safe Cosmetics Database, a tool to help you check the ingredients in your products. Visit, a division of the Breast Cancer Fund, working to protect the health of consumers through education and legislative advocacy.  Choose nontoxic products for your beauty and personal care routine!

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