I will full admit that until recently, I have pretty much ignored the whole “toxic ingredients” chatter surrounding the beauty and personal care industry. I sometimes felt it was a bunch of scare tactics and honestly, didn’t have time to fret about what was in my deodorant. But recently the wife of a friend/vendor I adore chatted with me about her work with and really opened my eyes about changes we can all make to create a safer environment for ourselves. I had no idea that Europe bans 1,371 chemicals from their personal care products and the US bans only 11!!! I know a lot of you are interested and focused on this too (having seen your comments on my Instagram about my Vaseline lip balm and such! so I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you about this topic and what I’m doing to try to improve my health in this way.
In reality, I’m not going to get rid of every beauty product I own (long live Clea de Peau and my belief in moderation), but I have been making smarter choices and swapping out what I easily can for safer items- most notably my deodorant, body wash, body lotion, home cleaning supplies and face moisturizers. What I find interesting about Ava Anderson is that they are incredibly vocal about being more focused on educating the public about toxins than selling the product, in fact the owners of the company don’t even take a salary and instead to roll all the money back into the company and product development and education. Not to mention the company’s namesake and founder, Ava, started this company when she was just 14 (, so interesting) !!! I love young, women owned businesses like this!
I asked Rania to share the top 8 ingredients you should look for in your products and try to avoid- I find myself now looking at the ingredients on the back of bottles to see what they contain. Here are her biggest offenders to be on the lookout for:
FRAGRANCE – chemical concoctions that are not required to be listed on the label, because manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of ingredients in “fragrance” or “parfum” – it is called “trade secret” in the industry. More than 75% of the time if you have fragrance, you have legally hidden phthalates (THAL ates) which are a known endocrine disruptors, and are linked with birth defects, breast cancer, infertility, liver, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and now with autism and ADHD in first and third trimesters of pregnancy by Dr. Philip Landrigan, Mt Sinai, Children’s Environmental Health Center.
PARABENS – known endocrine disruptors. Preservative has caused many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Methylparaben combines benzoic acid with the methyl group of chemicals, and is highly toxic. Studies have linked these endocrine disruptors, which mimic estrogen, with breast cancer. While more conclusive studies need to be done, we recommend avoiding all parabens. A study by physicians at the University of Chicago (Sept, 2011) linked BPA and methylparaben with breast cancer, and also showed that the combination rendered tamoxifin ineffective.
TRICLOSAN – is the active ingredient in “anti bacterial” products, is registered with the government as a pesticide, and is a known endocrine disruptor. Triclosan (and its chemical cousin triclocarbon) is believed to disrupt thyroid function and contribute to liver and inhalation toxicity.
OXYBENZONE and OCTINOXATE – (and other chemical sunscreen “active ingredients”) are UV ray filters that are also known endocrine disruptors.
**Important note – ALL OF THE ABOVE ARE “ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS” Many products that you use daily have one or more endocrine disruptors, and some will have multiples! They are important to avoid, because the endocrine system regulates ALL biological processes in the body – development of the brain and nervous system, growth and function of the reproduction system, metabolism and blood sugar levels, ovaries, testes, pituitary, thyroid and the adrenal glands. (Natural News)
The World Health Organization and the UN recently released a report that called endocrine disruptors a “Global Threat.” Small amounts of endocrine disruptors matter, especially to the developing fetus.
PEG’s – (polyethylene glycol), SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES),and INGREDIENTS THAT END IN “-eth” like ceteareth, triceteareth, – PEGs are petroleum byproducts and sulfates are detergents that create suds or foam. During manufacturing process carcinogenic contamination is created – 1,4 dioxane – which is a known human carcinogen by the FDA, with liver and kidney effects. You will never see 1,4 dioxane on your label, as companies are also not required to list contaminants. 1,4 dioxane, can be stripped from products for just pennies, but isn’t because there is no regulation in the US. However, manufactures MUST remove this contaminant for European distribution because it is banned in the EU.
RETINYL PALMITATE – the FDA released a report that states in studies, retinyl palmitate, in the presence of sunlight, enhances skin cancer lesions by 21%.
NANOPARTICLES – it is important to note that most manufacturers of mineral sunscreens are using nanoparticles of zinc and titanium. Nanoparticles can cross the cell barrier and drive into organs, including the brain in humans. There is no way of knowing what size particle they are using unless they tell you. In EU manufacturers must list nanoparticles on the label, not in US.
ALUMINUM and metals – these are bio-accumulative, meaning they store in your fat cells and accumulate, and are very hard to get rid of. Many deodorants contain aluminum as an active ingredient.
Some of my favorite Ava products that are easy substitutes to make for your current products (and a great place to start becoming more aware of toxins in beauty products):
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
For those interested in learning more (and there is a TON more to learn, it’s overwhelming) you can Rania directly atand read more on She’s an incredibly knowledgeable resource on this topic.
There are many, many lines out there that claim to be “all natural” and “organic” but you do still need to read what the ingredients are. Not all lines that label their products “natural” or “organic” actually are chemical free. Another really great line with strict standards is , which was founded by a fellow Miss Porter’s alumnae (and is GOOP approved). Speaking of GOOP, about non-toxic beauty, including an interview with Stacy Malkan who wrote the book Not Just A Pretty Face (which Rania gave me a copy of too!)