When searching for safe cosmetics and beauty care items, one can easily get lost in translation with terms such as “green” “natural” and “organic.” Unfortunately, these words are too often tossed around the cosmetic aisle. Even though terms are popping up on labels more and more, what do they really mean? Did you know that “natural” and “organic” don’t actually mean the same thing? We’ll break down the definitions for you:
- Organic – An organic product label means the item is certified organic by any of the numerous certifying institutions (look for the certified organic label) and that all products are harvested without the use of synthetic chemicals. Additionally, the manufacturing process of the item must abstain from chemicals and synthetic elements.
- Natural – A natural label on a product means the company is more concerned with consumer safety than the purity of the product. Meaning, some petrochemicals and preservatives are allowed in these items. However, they do not include the most problematic of chemicals or the ones that do the most harm to you health.
While labels like to claim their product is either organic or natural, many times, if you actually take the time to read the ingredient list, you’ll see a few natural origins (at best!) mixed with plenty of chemical and synthetic elements. Which, needless to say, can cause major health issues throughout your lifetime. It’s important to take care of your body, and, if you strive to eat healthfully and lead an active lifestyle, why would you fill it with harmful chemicals?
While we know the importance of organic skin care and cosmetics, we are also realistic. Most people cannot simply throw out all their products and start from scratch. It’s okay to start small and work your way into an all-organic beauty routine. So, while on your journey to green up your beauty routine, know the chemicals that you should avoid at all costs.
- Synthetic sunscreen
While sun protection is important, synthetic sunscreen can mimic estrogen and cause hormonal disruption and irritate the skin. When you head outdoors, it’s best to use sunscreen that is effective and safe.
If you see fragrance on your product’s ingredient list, it’s best to step away. Fragrance is a loophole used to mask the number of chemicals that are needed to make the synthetic smell. The problem is that the company doesn’t have to name the ingredients; they can simply put “fragrance” on the label.
- Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate
Added to soaps and shampoos to create foam, these chemicals not only dry out your skin, but are extremely irritating, and cause rashes and allergic reactions.
This component is often used as a carrier for fragrances in products like hair spray, lipstick, and perfume. It is known to negatively affect fertility and fetal development.
- Propylene Glycol
A group of petroleum-based ingredients that don’t sound good for your skin no matter which way you spin it. They are linked to cancer and can cause harm to your nervous system.
This preservative is found in soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and hair care products. Parabens are extremely dangerous, as they act like estrogen in the body and can lead to infertility or damaged fetal development. They have also been found in breast tissue.
Found in skincare products like lip balm and makeup, petrolatum is dangerous, as it contains impurities that are linked to cancer. It’s worth noting that words like petroleum jelly and mineral oil are often used to identify the chemical.
- Heavy metals
Heavy metals are used to block sweat and whiten, lighten, or add color. These are found in lip products, whitening toothpaste, sunscreen, eye drops, and plenty of makeup. It’s best to avoid these, as they are a possible carcinogen, cause developmental and reproductive issues, cause allergic reactions, and bio-accumulate in the body.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)
This is a preservative found in hair care items, body wash, and sunscreen. The chemical poses as a possible neurotoxin, contributes to health risks in unborn children, and causes allergic reactions.
Often found in items such as nail polish, deodorant, and shampoo, formaldehyde is an impurity released by chemical preservatives. Not only is it carcinogenic, but it irritates the skin and lungs, and is linked to gastrointestinal and liver issues.
- DEA, TEA
This is a foaming agent used in many shampoos, body washes, and skin care products. It’s dangerous because it can form cancerous compounds with mixed with other cosmetic ingredients.
- 1,4 Dioxane
Used in products such as shampoo, facial cleansers, body wash, bubble bath, and liquid soap, this chemical is carcinogenic, causes irritations to the skin and immune system, and is a suspected cardiovascular and blood toxicant.