If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do is worry about which skincare products contain toxic ingredients while trying to soak up some sun this summer (with sunscreen on, of course!). To keep your summer stress-free, I’ve listed five important skincare ingredients to avoid, plus five all-natural healthy skincare products to add to your lineup this season.
What are they? Parabens are toxic ingredients in skincare and act as preservatives/chemicals in cosmetics to prevent microbial growth and to extend the shelf life of a product.
Where can you usually find them? According to the FDA, “cosmetics that may contain parabens include makeup, moisturizers, hair care products, and shaving products, among others.”
Why are they harmful? Parabens are endocrine disruptors that have been linked to breast cancer and also might cause an allergic reaction on the skin.
How are they listed on an ingredients label? Methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-, propyl-paraben.
Recommend any paraben-free products? I love the Elixir Apothecary Elixir Crème Hand and Body Lotion because it contains all natural ingredients to help treat, heal and moisturize the skin.
What are they? PEG compounds (or polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based ingredients used in cosmetics as solvents, thickeners, moisture-carriers, and softeners.
Where can you usually find them? Find them as the base for cosmetic creams, soaps, and makeup.
Why are they harmful? PEGs may be contaminated with significant amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, depending on how the PEG was manufactured. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies ethylene oxide as a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane as a possible human carcinogen, making these two ingredients possible causes for cancer. Plus, the California Environmental Protection Agency classified ethylene oxide as a developmental toxicant based on evidence that it may interfere with human development (like birth defects or infertility).
How are they listed on the ingredients list? PEG or polyethylene glycol.
Recommend any PEG-free products? I love the Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 because it’s PEG-free, zinc oxide-based physical sunscreen that applies smoothly and won’t leave a white, pasty cast.
What are they? Sulfates are the chemicals that make your shampoos, toothpaste and hand soaps emulsify and lather.
Where can you usually find them? Find them hiding in body washes, shampoos, face washes, soaps, and toothpaste.
Why are they harmful? Not only are sulfates toxic skincare ingredients that can cleanse away dye from the hair at a faster rate, but they have also been shown to be irritating to the eyes and skin, causing redness, dryness, and itchiness.
How are they listed on an ingredients label? The two most common sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.
Recommend any sulfate-free products? I love the Elixir Apothecary Mint Soap.
What are they? Phthalates are chemicals used in hundreds of products (like toys, food packaging, and pharmaceuticals), but are used in cosmetics to keep materials pliable.
Where can you usually find them? Find them in nail polishes, hair sprays, and fragrances.
Why are they harmful? Phthalates have been under question because there have been some studies that suggest they might be hormone (endocrine) disruptors.
How are they listed on the ingredients list? Phthalates are commonly hidden as “fragrance” or “parfum,” or can be listed as anything with “phthalate” in the name, like “dibutylphthalate,” “dimethylphthalate,” or “diethylphthalate.”
Recommend any phthalate-free products? I love the Luna Nectar Heliophilia Glow & Fix Serum ($68, cynaglow.com), which is a face and hair serum to address inflammation, redness, severe dryness, and skin concerns relating to transepidermal water loss.
What are they? Fragrances are harmful ingredients in skincare and act as scents (sometimes natural, sometimes synthetic) that are added into cosmetics to make it more attractive to the consumer.
Where can you usually find them? Find them in most personal care products like shampoo, body wash, body lotion, soap, makeup, face creams, and perfumes.
Why are they harmful? There are many harmful chemicals in cosmetics that are hidden under the umbrella term “fragrance” or “parfum” on the ingredients label. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) has listed 3,059 materials that have been reported as being used in fragrance compounds, and of those listed, some have been linked to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies, and sensitivities.
How are they listed on the ingredients list? “Fragrance” or “parfum.”Recommend any products free from synthetic colors or dyes? I love the Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion because it has no added fragrance and is a lightweight lotion ideal for the summer heat.