Skincare Ingredients To Avoid
Sadly, the skincare industry is, by and large, all about maximising profits whilst, at the same time, reducing costs. It’s understood that people will pay more for products that are perceived to make them more attractive. And, the skincare industry has opted to occupy a rather predatory position in order to capitalise fully on people’s insecurities.
Skincare Industry Exploits Obvious Advantage
The skincare industry happily charges a premium for skincare products knowing that people are much more emotionally vulnerable around buying products that are purported to enhance their natural beauty.
But, making matters even worse, products are made even more profitable by extending shelf life, which is why a lot of nasty, harmful ingredients are present in most conventionally produced skincare products.
Did you know that the average woman applies 515 different chemicals on their skin, each day, as part of their beauty and personal hygiene regimes?
In the past, [I spent] a small fortune on conventional beauty products like high-end serums and moisturizers.Wendy Myers
But then I learned those products are basically a toxic goop of chemicals, perfumes, and parabens that soak in through your skin and cause hormone havoc, especially for your reproductive hormones.
In fact, studies have linked many of the chemicals found in conventional skincare products with weight gain, acne, fertility issues, and worse.
I discuss the main toxic skincare and haircare ingredients in this article, but for more information on cosmetics and perfumes I advise you to read Weight Gain & Resistant Weight Loss, which is a companion piece to this article.
Because all of the toxins listed in this article, and in Weight Gain & Resistant Weight Loss, cause system dysfunction, they also cause us to gain weight. Weight gain is just one symptom of toxicity… Cellulite is another… Brain fog is yet another, etc, etc…
NONE of the symptoms we suffer from when we are exposed to toxic ingredients are either desirable or fun!
Top 10 Toxic Skincare Ingredients
These are the top 10 toxic skincare ingredients covered later on in this article.
- Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
- Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) & Polysorbate 80
- Mineral oil
- Synthetic fragrance :: fragrance, parfum
- Formaldehyde releasers
- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) and Benzophenone
***Bonus ingredient :: Retinol
Retinol is increasingly being identified as a very troublesome ingredient which is used in a plethora of products. Not only is Retinol now believed to disrupt normal bodily functions, but it also thought to exacerbate the ageing process rather than slow it down. This is particularly problematic as it’s the conventional skincare industry’s chief anti-ageing ingredient!
See how Retinol holds up against Rosehip Oil & Bakuchiol Oil in Rosehip Oil & Bakuchiol Oil Versus Retinol.
*Heads Up :: Retinol comes off very badly in this comparison!
UK Versus The US
The FDA has only banned approximately nine chemicals for use in skincare products, whereas, the UK, with it’s protections from the EU, has banned around 1,328!
This list has been written for EU countries, (which, at the time of writing, UK was one), but is also useful to US readers. However, you may want to consult the FDA website for information about cosmetic chemicals used in the US also.
Another great resource for US citizens, and the rest of us, is the EWG, Environmental Working Group, Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, where we can research cosmetics and skincare to our hearts content.
Toxic Skincare Ingredients
And, just to compound the unnecessary insanity of it all, a lot of the more toxic ingredients included in skincare product formulations provide unnecessary attributes, like the Sulphates used to provide the foaming action of a lot of shampoos and cleansers etc.
The fact that a lot of toiletries and skincare items are produced with a foaming action is not because this is necessary for them to work. The foam is added purely because people like it and expect it. But, if they knew how unhealthy the ingredients are that make things foam, then a lot of people would opt to do without them.
Consumers Need To Shine A Light On Skincare
Sadly, an industry that has such a vested interest in sourcing cheap ingredients and selling products for a premium it is not going to willingly change it’s business practices any time soon. It’s way, way, way too profitable for skincare producers to continue doing what they are doing.
These people will gladly compromise your health and continue to perform immensely cruel tests on animals, all of which is utterly unnecessary, and only exists because these people and the company’s they work for, want to produce new formulations… New formulations mean a new profit stream, but they also need to be tested before they can be patented and declared ‘safe’ for public consumption. But, trust me, we’ve got more than enough bad skincare formulations already… we really don’t need any more!
And, surely there’s enough choice in skincare products when you consider that producing a new product is likely to cause untold suffering of potentially thousands more defenceless dogs and rabbits?
Skin Care With Harmful Chemicals
“Skincare wIth harmful chemicals” has to be one of the most obvious examples of an oxymoron going!?!
But, it’s very much a reality. And, despite the obvious health risks associated with a lot of the ingredients, the products they’re in are touted as being miracle treatments for all manner of skin types and skin conditions.
Consumers are getting wise to the very questionable skincare claims being made, and are beginning to ask challenging questions.
In a fair and just world we would all cheer at the prospect of a skincare industry running scared at the prospect it was going to finally be held to account… But, instead of becoming more conscientious, big skincare brands are becoming increasingly devious when it comes to the ingredients they are using.
They are aware that the buying public is wising up to their health-compromising practices. But instead of cleaning up their act, they are treating it as an opportunity to maximise their profits even more!
Green-Washing Skincare Products
The skincare industry knows that people who buy organic products are accustomed to paying considerably more for things… usually a third more compared to the typical prices for conventionally produced items. But, where skincare is concerned the difference in price can be a lot more dramatic.
So, companies are now attempting to ‘green-wash’ their products… essentially trying to pass off their chemically formulated products as natural and organic.
This is particularly offensive because these companies are intentionally deceiving people who are doing their level best to try and make healthy choices for themselves and their family, But, all that’s happening is that they are being fleeced out of their hard-earned cash for products that are as equally dangerous to their health as the cheaper alternatives
Read more about these dreadful practices in more detail on the Wild As The Wind Ethos page.
Chemicals In Skincare
Below we mention a few of the main offenders you might like to eliminate from the skincare products you use. Of course, there are many, many others, but the following tend to be rather ubiquitous, and are really not good for us. (On average, women apply more than 200 chemicals on their skin on a daily basis!)
- Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
- Parabens :: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, heptylparaben, isopropylparaben, and benzylparaben, along with other ingredients ending in ‘paraben’.
- Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) :: ingredients begining with PEG: PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil and PEG-100 Stearate or Polysorbate: Polysorbate 20, 40, 60 and 80 etc.
- Polysorbate 80 is often found in bath bombs. (The number denotes how many PEG molecules the constituent contains.)
- Mineral oil :: paraffinum liquidum, paraffinum, cera microcristallina, petrolatum, mineral oil or paraffin waxes etc…
- Synthetic fragrance :: fragrance, parfum
- Formaldehyde releasers :: e.g. imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quarternium-15
- FRPs :: Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and quarternium-15
- Silicones :: Dimethicone, Methicone, Trimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Amodimethicone, Trimethylsilylamodimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol etc…
- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) and Benzophenone
Read more about the carcinogenic constituents found in sunscreen, (4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) and Benzophenone) in the ‘Skincare Toxicity’ section on our Skincare page.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, (SLS), is a very inexpensive and broadly used chemical that acts as a detergent, emulsifier and surfacant that allows suds to be created. For this reason it is used in everything from shampoo and soap to toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is so cheap and effective that it’s found in a number of industrial cleaning agents such as detergents and engine de-greasers.
It’s also widely used in the animal testing industry to cause skin irritation so that products being developed to cure dermatological conditions can be thoroughly researched.
SLS is a simple molecule that’s small in size enabling it to easily penetrate the outer layers of the skin, especially when used during bathing. The hot water in our showers and baths encourages the pores of our skin to open, making anything we apply during the bathing process a lot more likely to be absorbed into the body.
Their ability to remove stratum corneum lipids means they penetrate the skin deeper into the viable layers and can cause immune reaction.
SLS is one of the cheapest and strongest surfactants used in the skincare industry, but, because it is one of the most irritating chemists created SLES.
Sodium Laureth Sulphate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate, (SLES), can be contaminated with Dioxane, a known carcinogen, depending on the manufacturing process. SLES is produced via ethoxylation, which creates a surfactant that’s less irritating to the skin than SLS, but, unfortunately, is regularly contaminated with Dioxane, a byproduct of the chemical reaction.
Dioxane is very difficult to excrete from the body. The liver cannot metabolise Dioxane properly and is thus, it is deposited in very undesirable parts of the body such as; in the brain, lungs, liver, and heart.
It is considered to cause hormone imbalances, triggering PMS and menopausal symptoms, and is even thought to reduce male fertility rates, although there is not, as yet, an overwhelming scientific case to substantiate the claims.
However, SLS is known to mimic Oestrogen, which means it has become one of the usual suspects in the line-up for all forms of hormonal imbalance.
The chief worry where SLS is concerned is the residual build-up in the system over time. SLS is considered safe when used as a ingredient in personal care products if it constitutes 1% or less of the total product. However, because it is so difficult to detox this ingredient the body can store SLS at much greater levels than is found in the products it’s derived from.
Cyclical Problems With Using SLS and SLeS
Because SLS and SLeS are known to elicit skin reactions like irritant contact dermatitis and other forms of inflammation, many people seek treatment to ease the discomfort.
Emulsions, in the form of thick heavy creams, are often prescribed by doctors to treat inflammatory skin disorders, which include eczema and psoriasis etc. However, these kinds of emulsions may actually cause these skin disorders because surfactants are often used in these lotions to help stabilise them and extend shelf-life.
The Better Alternative To SLS And SLES
Ammonium Laurel Sulfate, (ALS), is a much more preferable surfacant than the alternatives.
Although SLS and Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate, (ALS), are both classed as anionic surfactants, they possess very different molecular structures.
ALS has a much more complex structure that is considerably larger than SLS. This makes it nigh on impossible for ALS molecules to penetrate the outer layers of the skin. ALS is thus, considered to be a lot less irritating than SLS.
ALS can be found in organic hydrosols like the floral waters Wild As The Wind use as cleansers and toners.
Parabens are everywhere! And, they are evil endocrine disruptors!
But what the Dicken’s are they?
Well.. they’re a family of synthetic esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid that share similar molecular structures… but more comprehensively… They’re anti-microbial preservatives found in personal care products and foods and are known endocrine disruptors, particularly the most commonly used parabens: methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben, which have been found to impact oestrogen levels, potentially affecting female reproductive health due to toxicity levels.
Remember, these things have an ability to build up in our bodies over time. Toxins get stored in fat… that’s why cellulite is such an issue for many of us. Cellulite is an indication of how toxic we are.
They have also been linked to cancer and developmental issues, making pregnant woman and young children the most susceptible.
Denmark has banned quite a few parabens from products due to the direct link to health issues.
They are found in everything from shampoos, and conditioners to body lotions. They are even used in facial cleansers and scrubs.
Triclosan is added to many consumer products with the intention of reducing or preventing bacterial contamination. It’s in most of antibacterial soaps and shower gels, and a lot of the big brand toothpastes, and quite a few big brand cosmetics. Triclosan is bad news because it can cause:
- Abnormal endocrine function – disrupting hormone signalling.
- Lowering of the immune system, by killing the good bacteria in our gut.
- Early exposure to antibacterial products leads to an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.
- Uncontrolled cell growth.
Triclosan is also responsible for other nasty effects, we advise you to do your own research…
But what is for sure is that it’s not good for our hormones, and it’s not good for our gut flora. As the bacteria in our gut forms 80% of our immune systems, and because the gut is responsible for producing and regulating a lot of our hormones, anything that disrupts the gut has a catastrophic effect on our physical and mental health over time.
And this is the problem… it’s the accumulative effect of the build-up of these substances in the body that causes our health to start crashing in our forties and fifties, but whilst we’re sustaining the damage in our twenties and thirties we feel invincible!
Polyethylene Glycols, (PEGs), are petroleum-based moisturising agent often found in creams and moisturisers. PEGs improve absorption allowing the moisturising effects of the creams and moisturises to penetrate deep within the skin.
The problem with this is that PEGs also make it a lot easier for undesirable ingredients in our conventional skincare products to penetrate deeper into the skin also. And, as PEGs are themselves often contaminated with toxins like ethylene oxide and, yes, you guessed it, Dioxane, chances are the products containing PEGs are likely to cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, as well as nervous system disruption and liver and kidney toxicity etc…
And, again because of the efficacy of their penetrative ability they are likely to disrupt the skin’s natural moisture balance, especially with extended use, which will in turn alter the natural surface tension of the skin. This will potentially make our skin appear to be prematurely aged.
PEGs are increasingly hidden behind other, less obvious names, usually ‘polysorbates’. These are a group of nonionic surfactants that emulsify oil and water in creams, and also help to dissolve other ingredients in water. Used in :: moisturisers, cleansers, skin fresheners, make-up bases, foundations, shampoos and fragrance powders.
A Better Alternative To PEGs
PEGs are increasingly being replaced with Polyglyceryl ester polymers as emulsifying agents, which are also permitted in natural cosmetics, although plant based, non-ethoxylated emulsifiers are now widely available.
Label examples include :: Polyglyceryl-3 Stearate, Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate (numbers tend to be interchangeable), Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate/Sebacate, and, Polyglyceryl-6 Caprylate/Caprateetc…
Mineral oil is a byproduct of refining crude oil in the process of making petrol and other petroleum products. It’s a very desirable ingredient for mass produced cosmetics as it’s an effective emollient that’s very inexpensive that has a long shelf life.
It is a ubiquitous as parabens, and can be variously found in everything from facial creams and body lotions to lipsticks and lip balms.
Contrary to popular belief mineral oil doesn’t clog pores or prevent the skin from being oxyginated. It does, however, cause differing problems
Mineral oils are listed under several different names :: paraffinum, paraffinum liquidum, cera microcristallina, petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin waxes etc…
Mineral oils are mixture of complex hydrocarbons comprised of mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH). It has been proven that if MOSH are absorbed the body, they are stored in various organs and may cause damage to the liver and lymph nodes. MOAH are potentially carcinogenic and are prohibited in food substances by the European Food Safety Authority. Cosmetic-grade mineral oils are supposed to be highly purified and have all of the MOAH removed from them, so they only contain MOSH. Sadly, tests have shown that that’s not always the case. This issue is only problematic in lip care products, because some of the products gets ingested through the mouth. Otherwise, mineral oils are not absorbed by the skin (Lorenzini et al., 2010).
Much Better Alternatives To Mineral Oil
Wild As The Wind use natural nut, vegetable and fruit carrier oils like Sea Buckthorn Oil, Carrot Seed Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil, Macadamia Oil, Argan Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and Raspberry Seed Oil etc, as these are some of the best emollients found in nature. These, and the other oils we use, contain beneficial fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants in abundance, and are safe to eat, let alone put on the skin!
Cosmetic fragrances may smell enticing, but in reality, they are a complex mixture of many chemicals, which the manufacturer chooses to not disclose, just as the fracking companies, responsible for the geophysical fracturing of the earths core, in their efforts to extract natural gas, refuse to disclose the 400+ chemicals they use in the fracking process.
Reported side-effects of fragrance ingredients include :: rashes, dermatitis, urticaria, coughing, asthma attacks, migraine, hormone disruption etc…
Most fragrances contain diethyl phthalate, which is a serious endocrine disruptor, or Xenoestrogen.
Wild As The Wind only ever use essential oils in our products, and we only ever do so for their profound healing abilities. However, we have found that using groups of oils that heal a particular condition tend to blend in a way that makes the combined scent incredibly seductive and alluring… Nature truly is wonderful like that!
It never ceases to make me smile when people smell FACIAL OIL No. 2 for the first time. People generally love the way it smells, and interestingly, they tend to pick out a particular essential oil, if they are knowledgeable, as being the primary oil. Or, they will say that the oil either smells ‘floral’ or ‘woody’, if they are less knowledgeable, which can be exceedingly telling.
The people that smell Lavender as the primary note tend to be poor sleepers and night owls who need to go to bed earlier and sleep for longer! They are often sensitive people who are overly stressed.
Some people wil pick up on two or three oils. For example, women will often identify Lavender and Geranium, which usually indicates they need hormonal support. Lavender and Geranium are adaptogenic essential oils that help balance the hormones.
When women detect the ‘woody’ notes, it’s usually because they need the multifarious healing benefits of Frankincense oil.
Sadly, not only are unnatural, synthetic ingredients devoid of any healing capabilities, they are usually also profoundly toxic. The cosmetic industry use them for the sake of consistency as much as anything else, but the cost to our health can be significant, particularly over time.
Check out one of many of our detox articles to learn how to start getting rid of the toxic build-ups from these carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting poisons. May be heading over to our Morning Detox Protocols page is a great place to start…?
What makes it even worse is that it is often very difficult to tell if a product contains synthetic fragrance or natural essential oils. Shockingly, both synthetic fragrances and natural essential oils can both be listed as fragrance or parfum on a label. In the interest of protecting the formula’s used by manufacturers these companies are not required to declare which essential oils are being used in their products.
However, companies producing natural products tend to put an asterisk next the words *parfum and state “from natural essential oils”, or something similar, in the ingredients list.
But just because something is natural does not mean that it can’t present health risks. Synthetic and natural fragrances can promote allergic reactions, and can be photo-toxic etc. Typical examples include :: linalool, limonene, citronellol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl alcohol, etc.Read more about phototoxic ingredients.
Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs), used extensively to help prevent microbial contamination, are potential allergens and toxicants. And, whilst Formaldehyde in cosmetics is widely understood to cause allergic skin reactions and rashes in some people no-one is rushing to remove them from their products.
Only corporations that are placed under pressure from the buying public are the ones that are ever willing to adapt their products. This is why it is so essential for us to become much more aware of the health risks involved in using mainstream, mass produced products that are manufactured with optimal shelf life in mind, to properly protect the commercial interests of the producers.
There are increasing amounts of safe options to these toxic ingredients for preserving cosmetics.
*FRPs are forbidden in organic products
Here’s a short video about the toxins in nail polish…
Silicones are synthetically made polymers made from silicon and oxygen atoms. Owing to their unique, dry, powdery properties they are the primary ingredient in cosmetic primers and foundations.
Silicones are also used in moisturisers and body butters to reduce the greasy, oily feeling of the products on the skin. Additionally, due to the dry skin feel Silicones offer they are also the primary ingredient in dry body oils. They’re also popular in hair care products too as they possess conditioning and detangling properties, and they add shine.
What’s not to like?
Well… whilst they don’t overtly hurt us, Silicones do not add anything either. There’s not a single nutrient in Silicone and there’s likely an issue with the accumulation on the scalp if shampoos with Silicone are used on a regular basis. Also. Silicone is not biodegradable and so bioaccumulation in the environment is inevitable.
There are several kinds of them, but you can recognise their names, which are ending in “-cone” or “-siloxane”: Dimethicone, Methicone, Trimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Amodimethicone, Trimethylsilylamodimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol.
If you’re interested in reading about the manufacturers of misleading skincare products you can find more information on the Wild As The Wind Ethos page.
Ever Heard Of Obesogens?
Obesogens do what you’d expect them to… and then once we’re obese they stop us from losing weight too… Oh, the joys of modern living!
Obesogens can be found in our polluted air, secondary smoke, plastics, vinyl flooring, cleaning products, food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products, and certain prescription drugs.
Detoxing has never been more important.
Did you know that glutathione is the most antioxidant constituent in the body? And, did you know that Milk Thistle increases the production of glutathione in the body?
Sooo… in keeping the liver cleansed by regularly taking Milk Thistle we are also increasing the levels of the most important antioxidant in the body… it’s all an upward cycle!!!
Coffee enemas also increase glutathione! And they’re so much fun! 😉
They also increases the speed at which the enzymatic pathways are running, and it dumps the toxins into the coffee which you then eliminate wholesale ten or so minutes later.
Here’s a good article about glutathione: