It All Started with a Bar of Soap: Top Tips to Detoxing Your Skin Care Regimen
I had always had a problem with bleaching my sheets.
The face wash I was using would leave bleached spots everywhere I had laid to sleep. The only problem I was concerned about was the fact that my sheets had become tie-dyed. Then, when I became pregnant with my son, it hit me- if this face wash was bleaching my sheets like that, what was it doing to my face... and even more so, what was it doing to my baby? So I started researching, and this is what I found:
A look at the ingredients:
Active Ingredient(s): salicylic acid 0.5%
Inactive Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, cetearyl alcohol, dimethicone, sodium polyacrylate, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, sophora angustifolia root extract, morus alba root extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, arctostaphylos uva ursi leaf extract, kojic acid, zinc gluconate, alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, sodium hyaluronate, bisabolol, allantoin, squalane, safflower oil/palm oil aminopropanediol esters, C12-15 alkyl lactate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, glycerin, ethylhexyl palmitate, hydrogenated polydecene, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, PPG-5-laureth-5, polyquaternium-11, ceteareth-20, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, polysorbate 60, hexylene glycol, PPG-2 myristyl ether propionate, sodium hydroxide, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance.
According to the EWG’s Skin Deep database, which is an online safety guide, ranking safety for cosmetics and personal care products, my face wash was ranked moderate for developmental and reproductive toxicity, moderate-high for allergies and immunotoxicity, as well as:
Other HIGH concerns: Biochemical or cellular level changes, Endocrine disruption, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Occupational hazards, Persistence and bioaccumulation; Other MODERATE concerns: Contamination concerns, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive); Other LOW concerns: Enhanced skin absorption, Cancer, Data gaps, Ecotoxicology, Neurotoxicity1
Think about all the body care products you use daily. Shampoo, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, hair conditioner, lip balm, sunscreen, body lotion, shaving products, and makeup. And what about for our children? Sunscreen, diaper cream, shampoo, and lotion are just the most common products used. We use these products without a second thought, believing that the government oversees their safety. Not so much. Astonishingly, no health studies or pre-market testing are required for these products.2 This is an amazing wake up call, especially when we consider that biomonitoring studies have found that cosmetics ingredients, including as phthalate, parabens, triclosan, and sunscreen ingredients, are commonly found polluting the bodies of men, women, and children. Several of these chemicals act as hormone disruptors.4,5,6 Studies have even revealed the health problems in people exposed to common fragrance and sunscreen ingredients, including increased risk of sperm damage and feminization of the male reproductive system.7,8,9,10 And then there’s even a risk to the fetus of pregnant women; prenatal exposure to phthalates can cause reproductive organs of male infants to develop abnormally per a study completed at University of Rochester.11
In its 36 years, The Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel has only rejected 11 ingredients as unsafe cosmetics12 On the other hand, the European Union has banned hundreds of chemicals in cosmetics.13 Even descriptions such as “hypoallergenic” or “natural” can “have very little medical meaning,” according to the FDA.14
Once I started learning about the negative health risks that my face wash could be causing to me and my unborn child, I immediately started “detoxing” my skin care products. First things first, I bought a homemade tea tree and charcoal bar of soap to swap out for my face wash. I was hooked. In one fell swoop, I went through my entire bathroom and put everything that was chemical-ridden into a box to be thrown out and slowly started replacing with more pure, toxin-free products.
Are you ready to detox your skin care regimen? Here are some top tips to clean up your skin care products:
1. Start reading labels. Don’t be tricked by the “claims” on the front of the label. These claims are often just marketing ploys. Instead, your first instinct should be to play detective and read the ingredient list. It is the only part that (almost) never lies!
2. Avoid fragrances as much as possible. Yes they may smell good, but fragrance may include any number of the industry’s 3,100 stock chemicals15, none of which is required to be listed on labels.
3. DIY-it. You most likely already have plenty of ingredients in your pantry to create most of your skin care products.
4. Use the following resources to research the safety of your current skin care products:
If you're interested in cleaning up your skin care products, check out a company I've been using for my makeup and skin care needs: Beautycounter. Their Never List™ is made up of over 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that they never use in their products. This includes over 1,400 chemicals that have been banned or restricted from personal care products in the European Union, which has stricter regulations that the U.S.
1."Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database | EWG." Skin Deep Home Comments. Web. 11 Sept. 2015.
2."Why This Matters – Cosmetics and Your Health | Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database | EWG." Skin Deep Why This Matters Cosmetics and Your Health Comments. Web. 11 Sept. 2015.
3. Gray TJ, Gangolli SD. 1986. Aspects of the testicular toxicity of phthalate esters. Environmental Health Perspectives 65: 229-23.
4. Gomez E, Pillon A, Fenet H, Rosain D, Duchesne MJ, Nicolas JC, et al. 2005. Estrogenic activity of cosmetic components in reporter cell lines: parabens, UV screens, and musks. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 68(4): 239-251.
5. Veldhoen N, Skirrow RC, Osachoff H, Wigmore H, Clapson DJ, Gunderson MP, et al. 2006. The bactericidal agent triclosan modulates thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and disrupts postembryonic anuran development. Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 80(3): 217-227.
6. Schreurs RH, Legler J, Artola-Garicano E, Sinnige TL, Lanser PH, Seinen W, et al. 2004. In vitro and in vivo antiestrogenic effects of polycyclic musks in zebrafish. Environmental Science & Technology 38(4): 997-1002.
7. Duty SM, Singh NP, Silva MJ, Barr DB, Brock JW, Ryan L, et al. 2003. The Relationship between Environmental Exposures to Phthalates and DNA Damage in Human Sperm Using the Neutral Comet Assay. Environmental Health Perspectives 111(9): 1164-9.
8. Hauser R, et al. 2007. DNA damage in human sperm is related to urinary levels of phthalate monoester and oxidative metabolites. Human Reproduction.22(3):688-95.
9. Swan SH, Main KM, Liu F, Stewart SL, Kruse RL, Calafat AM, et al. 2005. Decrease in anogenital distance among male infants with prenatal phthalate exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives113(8):1056-61.
10. Wolff MS, Engel SM, Berkowitz GS, Ye X, Silva MJ, Zhu C, Wetmur J, Calafat AM. 2008. Prenatal phenol and phthalate exposures and birth outcomes. Environmental Health Perspectives. Aug;116(8):1092-7.
11. SH, Main KM, Liu F, et al; Study for Future Families Research Team. 2005. Decrease in anogenital distance among male infants with prenatal phthalate exposure. Environ Health Perspect. Aug;113(8):1056-61.
12. CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review). 2012. Ingredients found unsafe for use in cosmetics. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel, Washington DC. Last updated February 2012. http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/U-unsafe%202-02-2012%20final.pdf
13. European Commission. 2012. Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC.
14. FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2000b. Hypoallergenic Cosmetics. http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmeticlabelinglabelclaims/labelclaimsandexpirationdating/ucm2005203.htm.
15. IFRA (International Fragrance Association). 2010. Ingredients. IFRA survey: Transparency list. http://www.ifraorg.org/public/index_ps/parentid/1/childid/15/leafid/111.