When was the last time you looked at a skin care product label and saw a short list of recognizable ingredients? Did you know that the FDA does not regulate whether harmful substances can be added to personal care products? In the day and age of super chain stores, warehouses, trucking and mass inventory, preservatives and other harsh ingredients are invading our homes at record speeds. Industrial chemicals are added to skin care products for the purposes of avoiding bacterial growth (and ensuing lawsuits), maintaining texture and consistency over long periods of time and appealing to the consumer’s sense of smell, sight and touch.
Although many of us now recognize the value of “natural” ingredients, when it comes to personal care, even natural products are often not completely toxin-free. Few may realize that even “certified organic” can mean the product contains as little as 10% organic ingredients by weight or volume (Certech 2008)*.
Here is a list of some common potentially toxic ingredients found on US shelves that you might consider avoiding:
This is an alcohol ingredient added to products for skin conditioning effects. It is a known irritant and a cause of allergic skin reactions. The EPA has warned against skin contact and it is thought to possibly play a role in liver, brain, and kidney abnormalities.
Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15
These chemicals have been used historically in cosmetics as preservatives to slow bacterial growth. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and can trigger allergic skin reactions.
It was reported at John Hopkins University that mineral oil could be considered the second biggest cause of aging, after sun exposure. Mineral oil, also known as petrolatum liquidium, is derived from crude oil. It is used to prevent water from evaporating out of the skin but it may block pores, trap bacteria and dirt, and may contain neurotoxins.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
PEGs/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds are a family of conditioning and cleaning agents that are often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a potential carcinogen that readily penetrates the skin. Polyethylene Glycol is used in cleansers to dissolve grease and oil. Polyethylene Glycol can increase aging in skin by reducing natural moisture and leaving your skin more vulnerable to bacteria.
Fragrances are in nearly every personal care product sold. The term refers to a large and unregulated number of synthetic chemicals, most of which are not specified on the product label. Fragrances can be the cause of headaches, dizziness, asthma, hormone disruption, and counted among the top 5 allergens in the world.
Next time you are shopping for skin care, consider using the Internet as your guide to safe choices. The environmental working group’s website (ewg.org) has a Skin Deep database that lists the toxin levels of many products on the market. Keep in mind that many anti-aging products that are over-the-counter are not only toxic, but do not cause beneficial changes to the skin.
Medical grade skin care products can only be purchased through a licensed practitioners office. Not only do they have quality ingredients, they have higher quantities of active ingredients that can promote real change such as fewer lines, wrinkles, marks and spots, and healthier skin cells overall.
Camelback Healthcare carries a number of Medical grade skincare lines that have been shown in research to reverse sun damage and promote youthful, visibly obvious changes to the skin.
Contact us for a consultation with our licensed aesthetician to discuss the future health of your skin. Call or schedule online.
*Certech Registration Inc. 2008. International organic standard – Natural and natural organic cosmetic certification. IOS Cosmetics. Issue 01. April 2008. http://www.certechregistration.com/IOS_cosmetics_standard.pdf