October 25, 2017
November 22, 2017

5 ingredients used in Skincare to avoid at all costs

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We are what we put on… and what put on our bodies are as important as what we put in it. This is why it is important to understand what ingredients are used to formulate your toiletries, cosmetics and skincare products. Some of these harmful ingredients have insidiously found their way into our facial washes, exfoliating scrubs, sunscreens and lipsticks, and have been linked to detrimental health effects.

Yes, it can be absolutely daunting/ overwhelming when attempting to read (and pretending to understand) product ingredient labels so we are here to help! Here are 5 common toxic ingredients that you should avoid:

1. Parabens: Parabens are a whole family of chemicals (methylparabens, propylparabens, butylparabens, and ethylparabens) that help preserve the shelf-life of products. Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics as well as fragrance ingredients. Parabens can mimic estrogen in the body by disrupting our delicate hormonal balance. Parabens have been linked to cancers and they have been found in breast cancer tumours. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.

Common products: facial cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation, shampoo, makeup, moisturizer, shaving gel, personal lubricant and spray tan products

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2. Phthalates: Phthalates are group of chemicals used to soften and increase the pliability of plastics in cosmetics. This helps products adhere to our skin. Phthalates can be extremely dangerous for young children and it is best to avoid them totally as they can be serious endocrine disruptors and even cause birth defects. They can also block testosterone and cause damage to the male reproductive system.

Common products: perfumes, deodorant, aftershave lotion, hair spray, nail polish, hair sprays, soaps and shampoos

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3. BHA & BHT: BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are synthetic antioxidants that are used to extend product shelf life. As they can be broken down and absorbed by our bodies, they are likely to be carcinogens and hormone disruptors. Studies have shown that animals exposed to these chemicals developed stomach cancer, liver damage, as well as complications with their thyroid and reproductive organs. These two ingredients are banned in Europe.

Common products: lipsticks, eyeshadows, hair products and sunscreens

4. Lead: Lead is a heavy metal and a neurotoxin. Almost all lipsticks contain some amount of lead as tiny amounts are considered safe and can be tolerated legally in Europe and USA. However, overexposure to lead is harmful and can cause serious behavioral and developmental issues. It has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in men and women, and delays in puberty onset in girls. If you are wearing lipstick or lip gloss ritually, think about how many times you reapply it during the day. In Canada, lead is banned in cosmetics and lipsticks.

Common products: lipsticks, sunscreens, foundation, nail polish and whitening toothpaste.

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5. Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a colourless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and many household products. Yes, this ingredient used in wall paints is also used in cosmetics as preservatives! Formaldehyde is a chemical that can cause joint pain, skin allergies, depression, headaches, cancer, ear infections, dizziness, chronic fatigue syndrome and more. It is a known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.

Formaldehyde is used to preserve dead bodies.

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Common products: hair products soaps, shampoos, nail polish and sunscreens

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This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are many more chemicals used in cosmetics that can have damaging effects on our skin and body. Even words such as “natural” and “organic” can be highly misleading. So the next time you pick up a product that can make you look, feel, and smell better, take a closer look at the ingredient label and make sure you are reading them wisely. And choose brands that have a proven record in choosing consumer safety over profits. Like Estetica!

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We definitely hope this will kickstart your effort in making your skincare journey a safe and healthy one!

Always in good hands,


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