Skincare challenge: Go through each of the skincare products you use everyday and see how many of these toxic ingredients you find. Ditch the unhealthy offenders and replace them with more natural choice. Your skin will thank you!
If you carefully look at the fine print on the labels of the majority of personal-care products, you will inevitably see the word "fragrance" (or sometimes "parfum") slipped in among the ingredients. It may seem harmless, but these ‘fragrances’ are toxic. Since they are deemed trade secrets, ‘fragrances’ take advantage of a massive federal law loophole where the companies don't have to reveal the hundreds of dangerous chemical used to produce that sweet smelling aroma.
When manufacturers want to hide toxic petroleum and synthetic chemicals, they use the term "fragrance" to hide all of these harmful chemicals.
This deceptive word can hide devious compounds that have been linked to a number of health issues; from allergies to endocrine disruption. In 2002, 72 products were tested by the Environmental Working Group and 75% were found to contain phthalates, which are plasticized chemicals known to cause birth defects, infertility, feminization of infant boys, and kidney & liver damage. Some of the most popular skincare on the shelf contained "phthalates", but you would never know. Brands such as Pantene, Dove, Cover Girl, Revlon and L'Oréal were guilty of including these toxic chemicals without listing them in the ingredients.
Fragrance has even been referred to as “the new second-hand smoke.”
A 2009 study was done by researchers Paxson Barker and Christy De Vader at The University of Maryland called “Fragrance in the Workplace is the New Second-Hand Smoke” and they discovered that scent actually isn't the problem in fragrance but the synthetic derivatives of petroleum and tar.
The study stated that 80 to 90% of fragrant ingredients over the last 50 years were synthesized from petroleum. Some of these harmful chemicals uncovered in fragrance include phenol, acetone, benzyl acetate, toluene and limonene.
Fragrances have approximately 4,000 chemicals in them, but only 800 have had toxicity tests, either individually or when combined with other chemicals. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has lumped fragrances in with heavy metals, insecticides and solvents all of which are recommended for further testing to find out their neurotoxicity levels.
These types of toxins result in damage to the central nervous system. Actual physical responses to fragrances are grouped as (1) Respiratory – reactive airway dysfunction syndrome, asthma allergic and non-allergic, (2) Neurological – lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting, mental confusion, migraine headaches, (3) Skin – sensitization, irritation or itching and (4) Eye – inflammation, tearing
Those who apply products that contain synthetic fragrance could even produce a bubble of toxins, which are still being released for several hours after first use, impacting people close by.
A study of asthmatics that was cited on David's Suzuki's website discovered that being exposed to colognes and perfumes trigger reactions in 75% of asthmatics. Studies have also shown that there is a link between exposure to fragrances and the development of childhood asthma.
Even though the FDA recognized that fragrances cause every 1 in 3 allergic reactions, manufacturers are still allowed to hide behind "trade secrets". Set up by the FDA for the perfume industry a number of years ago.
In other words, manufacturers can include virtually any chemical behind that heading and it will never be revealed to consumers.
The awareness of the dangers of fragrances has, unfortunately, gone largely unnoticed. We believe that educating consumers about the toxicity of synthetic fragrances can change this. Once consumers understand how harmful these compounds are, they will choose ‘fragrance-free’ products and skincare companies will provide more natural solutions to meet customer demand.
But avoiding synthetic fragrances doesn’t mean your skincare products can’t smell great!
Use products with scented essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance or ‘parfum’. Essential oils are derived from beneficial and nutritious plants such as barks, stems, flowers, leaves, seeds and roots. Although they are referred to as oils, they don't have the consistency of cooking or other familiar oils. When they make contact with the air they evaporate. So you don’t have to worry about walking around with a ‘greasy’ complexion. They also won’t cause breakouts; in fact there are several essential oil that treat acne naturally and effectively.
Essential oils can rejuvenate, lift, soothe and brighten. They have a natural scent that is non-toxic and completely safe for yourself and those around you. Skillful formulators have the ability to make essential oils with therapeutic properties as well as a balanced aroma.
It is not recommended to use unrefined essential oils directly on the skin because they are too potent and active at this stage.
To give you an idea of just how powerful these essential oils can be; it takes a whole pound of lemons to make only 5 drops of lemon essential oil. Applying an oil this concentrated directly to the skin can be irritating. The benefits are most effective when diluted with carrier oils such as jojoba, olive, grapeseed, or avocado oils.
Because of their concentrated nature, oils are more expensive than synthetic fragrances. The large quantity of original plant required for an essential oil can make production quite expensive. But the extra cost is worth it if to avoid the toxic chemicals in ‘fragrances’ and ‘parfums’. The extra price you pay for good health and radiant skin is well worth it.
Parabens are synthetic chemicals used as preservatives in the manufacturer of many different domestic goods, like beauty products, skin creams, and moisturizers. Parabens are cheap to produce and offer resistance to bacteria for a lengthy period of time. There are many different kinds of parabens but the most commonly used in skincare products are methyl, propyl and butylparaben. Manufacturers have been including these chemicals in their skincare products for close to 100 years. Recently, however, scientists and health advocates have taken a closer look at the safety of these compounds and found them to be far from harmless. What they’ve discovered is a host of negative side effects. 4 of the most common harmful effects are listed below:
· Endocrine System Disruption
There’s strong evidence that Methyl, propyl, and butyl varieties of parabens interrupt the operation of the endocrine system. In particular, parabens accumulate in body tissue and hinder glandular function suppressing the production of hormones. Furthermore, these types of preservative chemicals are correlated with the following issues in babies and children: developmental deficiencies, weakened immune system, learning difficulties, and reproductive irregularities.
· Premature Aging
Although many of the commercial beauty products that include parabens are actually designed to improve the skin, studies have shown that they can accelerate signs of skin aging. Scientists from the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan discovered that methylparabens increase skins sensitivity to the harmful effects of UV rays. Skin cells treated with methylparaben die out at a considerably quicker rate when exposed to direct sunlight. Look out for methylparabens next time you go shopping for an anti-aging wonder cream.
· Pseudo-Estrogen Effects
The "Journal of Applied Toxicology" published a study in 2004 where they found that parabens were linked to breast cancer. Parabens mimic estrogen, and as a result, increase the chances of a woman developing estrogen-positive breast cancer. Alarmingly, parabens were discovered in each of the 20 samples researchers used to conduct the human breast tumors test. This was the first study to show that parabens could seep from the outer skin to the tissue underneath and have systematic health effects. This can be especially alarming to men whose natural estrogen production is much lower than women.
· Male Reproductive Effects
Aside from this chemical’s estrogenic effects, parabens have also been linked to reproductive system harm in men. A number of scientific studies have found a link between parabens and low sperm count with suppressed testosterone levels. The studies determined that these side effects were the result of systematic paraben absorption from skincare products used by men.
The evidence against parabens is mounting but some still remain unconvinced. The FDA reports that safety evaluations have concluded that parabens are not dangerous and without any negative side effects. Per the FDA, “FDA scientists continue to review published studies on the safety of parabens. At this time, we do not have information showing that parabens as they are used in cosmetics have an effect on human health.” This is conflicting with a number of independent studies and much anecdotal evidence to the contrary. We believe that it’s best to avoid these chemicals while there is still much that isn’t known about them.
This is yet another synthetic preservative to steer clear of. Phenoxyethanol is among the most commonly used synthetic preservatives, even in merchandise advertised as "all-natural" or "organic”. It is identified as an irritant by the EU and a controlled ingredient in Japanese beauty products. As per its Material Safety Data Sheet, which looks at 100% concentration, phenoxyethanol is not simply dangerous if breathed in, ingested or soaked up via the skin, but it may also result in reproductive deficiencies and damage to the nervous system. In beauty products, concentrations are usually below 1%, however, your vulnerability to the compound might be intensified based on how frequently it is included in the beauty products you use.
In a nutshell, if phenoxyethanol is bad enough for the FDA, which has a lousy reputation at best in terms of championing public interest, to release a public safety alert that it could "depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea" in babies, it is definitely a good idea to avoid this chemical.