The season of transformation and new beginnings is among us. As we emerge from the stillness of the winter before, we are gifted the opportunity to start anew once more. During this transition out of the old, and in with the new, we here at Pure Dharma would like to invite you to extend this year’s spring cleaning to your beauty cabinet as well.
To make your life a little easier, we’ve done some of the work for you. In this post, we identify three “must know” toxic cosmetic ingredients, followed by a list of the product types you will typically ﬁnd them in. We’ll wrap it all up by going over a few diﬀerent ways that you can learn more about cosmetic ingredients, and methods to practice beauty more safely. Your skin and body will thank you, we promise.
What you put on your skin matters, here’s why.
Flourishing skin is a manifestation of balance both within and without. In an ideal scenario, the skin will have a living orchestra of microscopic systems playing in perfect symphony to regulate its functions automatically.
Some cosmetic formulations are crafted with the intention to work harmoniously with the skin and body, while others may contain ingredients that are incompatible, disrupting the self-regulating functions of the skin, and causing adverse reactions that can lead to a long list of problematic skin and health issues. The skin is also readily absorbent, meaning that many chemicals that are put on the skin can potentially be absorbed into the bloodstream.
The beauty industry can’t be trusted.
The FDA is responsible for regulating the cosmetic industry, however, the industry is vastly self-regulated.
With only eleven banned ingredients in the US, and no approval process required before going on the market, anybody can create and sell a cosmetic with nearly anything they want to put in it.
As a consumer of an under-regulated industry, it becomes your responsibility to get educated so that you can make safe and informed choices.
Sounds a bit overwhelming at ﬁrst, but it doesn’t have to be diﬃcult. By getting to know just a few common oﬀenders, you will be able to weed out a lot of the bad stuﬀ. Over time, you’ll learn through the process. And remember… you don’t need to be perfect. So take a deep breath with us… 3, 2, 1.
and let’s get it started!
When you see the ingredient “fragrance” listed on the back label of a cosmetic, that one nine letter word may hold the place for potentially thousands of chemicals. Because fragrances are protected by “trade secrets” companies are not required to disclose what exact ingredients go into a fragrance formulation. Numerous chemicals that are commonly used to create fragrances for cosmetics are classiﬁed as allergens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, carcinogens, triggers for asthma, and causes for reproductive malformation.
Where you might ﬁnd it:
sunscreen, shampoo & conditioner, soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup, facial cream, toners, serums, and of course perfume
Sodium Laurel Sulfate
Sodium Laurel Sulfate is a common ingredient that gives many cleansers a signature foamy texture when lathered. It sure does work well to wash the body of any impurities, but it doesn’t stop there. SLS goes a step further and washes away the stuﬀ we need as well, eﬀectively stripping away our protective barrier over time. Repeated use of cosmetics containing SLS may lead to dry, sensitive, and problematic skin that is vulnerable to the elements and microscopic invaders like bacteria.
Where you might ﬁnd it:
Shaving cream, nail treatments, makeup removers & cleansers, exfoliants, hair removal creams, body wash & bubble bath, and lip balm
Formaldehyde is a chemical that is used in cosmetics mainly as a preservative, and is also common in many nail polishes and hardeners. It is volatile, meaning it evaporates at room temperature, which is particularly concerning because of the adverse eﬀects it is known to have on the eyes, nose, and throat. Repeated exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to the development of skin issues, asthma, and even cancer.
Where you might ﬁnd it:
Makeup, eyelash glue, nail polish, nail polish hardeners & removers, hair straightening treatments, lotions, deodorants, cleansers, shampoos & conditioners
So what do we do now?
Fortunately for all the lovers of cosmetics out there, there are plenty of beauty brands with strong integrity that uphold exceptional standards in quality, despite the lack of regulation. (hello there, we are one of them)
The key is to be educated, researched, and informed.
Here are a few different ways you can learn more about cosmetic ingredients and how to uphold safer beauty practices:
- Ask a beauty professional who specializes in natural or holistic beauty
- Read a blog post (like you are right now) there are many niche blogs out there on natural beauty and cosmetics
- Look up ingredients using google, or look up entire products on an app like EWG’s Skin Deep
- Watch a video on YouTube
- Read or listen to “Renegade Beauty” by Nadine Artemis
So, we talked about 3 toxic chemicals that are used in cosmetics and why it’s better to avoid them: Fragrance, Sodium Laurel Sulfate, and Formaldehyde. We also went over what kind of products you will potentially ﬁnd these ingredients in, and lastly, provided you with a few resources so that you can continue your research on your own.
We hope this mini guide has given you conﬁdence in your ability to make safe and informed choices when choosing the right cosmetic for you. Your body deserves it.
You got this.
Happy spring cleaning!