Did you know? Skincare products are not regulated by the FDA. It can be hard to determine what is actually safe and what is not. The ingredients in your skincare products can have a major impact on your overall health and long-term well-being, so it is important to be aware of what can be causing you potential harm. Today, we are taking a deeper dive into the most harmful ingredients to be on the look for when choosing a skincare product.

Parabens
Parabens are commonly used preservatives in cosmetics and skin care.

According to the FDA, “Preservatives may be used in cosmetics to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, in order to protect both the products and consumers.”

Unfortunately, what the FDA does not disclose is that these preservatives are actually classified as endocrine disruptors. That means our endocrine system, which regulates the body’s metabolism, mood, and reproductive processes is compromised when exposed to parabens. It has been shown that over time, increased exposure to parabens can be linked to reproductive issues, birth defects, and metabolic problems. You can spot these ingredients on a product’s label as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Fragrance
Fragrance is typically added to cosmetic and beauty products to mask the unpleasant smell of other ingredients. This is a tricky ingredient to spot, mostly because it can even be included in “unscented” products. Sure, fragrance can make a product smell good, but it is actually one of the most irritating ingredients for the skin. Fragrance is shown to trigger allergies, asthma, eczema, headaches, hives, nausea, psoriasis, and more. What you may not know is that even though fragrance is listed as one ingredient, it is actually composed of multiple toxic chemicals that are lumped together. When checking your labels, be sure to avoid ingredients listed as fragrance, perfume, parfum, and flavor.

Formaldehyde
It’s scary but true. There are several products on the market that contain formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. Carcinogens can cause cancer and are frequently put into personal care products. These ingredients act as preservatives and aren’t actually listed as “formaldehyde” on the ingredient labels, so they can be hard to recognize. The reason behind the labeling is that the ingredients will form formaldehyde when added to water, which is the case of many beauty products. Make sure to look for the following ingredients masked as formaldehyde: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, quaternium-15.

BHA & BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are common preservatives added to most conventional skin care products like lipsticks and moisturizers. BHA and BHT are primarily added to skincare products and even food to extend their shelf life. These ingredients can not only cause allergic reactions but are also classified as possible human carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, causing potential liver damage. BHA and BHT is commonly found in moisturizers, lipsticks, and diaper creams, so be sure to check your labels!

Phthalates
Historically, phthalates have been used in a variety of products as a plasticizer, meaning they increase the flexibility of plastics in cosmetics.

According to the FDA, “Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products, such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other fragrance preparations.”

Phthalates are extremely dangerous for children especially due to their severity as endocrine disruptors. In fact, several types of phthalates have already been banned from children’s products. When looking for phthalates, check your labels for these ingredients: BBP: butyl benzyl phthalate, DBP: di-n-butyl phthalate, DEHP: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, DEP: diethyl phthalate, DiDP: di-isodecyl phthalate, DiNP: di-isononyll phthalate, DnHP: di-n-hexyl phthalate, and DnOP: di-n-octyl phthalate.

Shopping for skin care can be overwhelming. Be sure to stay safe and avoid these toxic ingredients!