petroleum jelly

The 2 Chemicals in Cosmetics You Should Avoid First

The 2 Chemicals in Cosmetics You Should Avoid First

I was recently asked which ingredients are most important to avoid in cosmetics. Since there is a pretty extensive list of toxic ingredients that commonly make an appearance in beauty products, plus the many names they go by, this isn’t exactly a short question to answer.

My response was, while it’s best to learn to spot all nasty ingredients or look at a list of those to avoid while shopping, it may help to ease into this whole label reading thing. At first, anyway.

The ingredients I would recommend nixing from your beauty repertoire immediately are petroleum ingredients and synthetic fragrance ingredients. These are both very toxic and the use of them is widespread.

Petroleum Ingredients

Yes, these come from crude oil. Sounds icky, right? And they are! Petrolatum, petroleum jelly, and mineral oil are commonly found on ingredient listings. Of course, they are refined for use in cosmetics (versus what you put in your car), but petro-chems are usually contaminated with carcinogens. The European Union (who sets higher standards for cosmetic safety than we do in the US) deems petrolatum carcinogenic and restricts its use.

The cancer risk associated with these ingredients is enough to make you steer clear, but there’s more. Petroleum jelly is viewed as a winter skin fix all. It is supposed to moisturize, soothe, repair, and protect dry, chapped, irritated skin. The problem with this gloppy ingredient is that it sits on top of skin, forming a barrier so skin cannot properly release toxins or absorb moisture from the air. Your skin may feel better when you first start using it, but will most likely end up dry, irritated, and congested. No good.

There are several healthy products you can purchase as an alternative to petroleum jelly. Cocoa and shea butter are super rich and great for hydrating and healing skin. Try The Beauty Chef Beauty Fix Balm. One Love Organics Skin Savior is made with coconut and jojoba oils, plus other soothing ingredients. Both are healthy choices that get the job done.

Synthetic Fragrance Ingredients

When synthetic fragrance is used in a beauty product it is actually a combination of several ingredients. If you think that makes it more difficult to identify these nasties on a product label, wait until you find out about the trade secret loophole. While manufacturers are required to list all ingredients used to make a cosmetic product, the FDA says it’s ok to exclude fragrance ingredients from the ingredient listing to protect the brand’s secret fragrance recipe from competitors. Manufacturers can simply use the terms “fragrance” or “parfum” instead.

Making things even more difficult is that many nontoxic brands also use these two terms to protect their secret fragrance blends. Usually a reputable natural cosmetics creator will note on an ingredient listing if their fragrance issues came from natural sources, like essential oils.

What’s the big deal with synthetic fragrance? These ingredients are what cause that headache-y, nauseated feeling you get when a scent doesn’t agree with you. But it doesn’t stop there. Synthetic fragrance is also linked to skin irritation, rash, dizziness, and asthma. They’ve also been found to carry an accumulation risk, meaning they build up in the body, and are linked to hormonal disruption and cancer.

Bottom Line

While you get familiar with harmful ingredients you want to avoid in cosmetics, start by checking for these two. Look for petro-ingredients like petrolatum, petroleum jelly, and mineral oil. When you see the terms “fragrance” and “parfum” on an ingredient listing, see if there is a notation as to the source of these ingredients. A brand’s website may also have information on their ingredient commitments.

Image :: McKinley Law at Unsplash

Replaced :: Aquaphor Type Skin Products, Only Natural

 

Are you so tired of cracked skin on your hands? Or maybe the skin on your face is looking irritated or ruddy? How about eczema? These skin conditions all come with the winter territory.

Go to the doctor or dermy and they’ll tell you to pick up a tube of Aquaphor, or some similar petroleum jelly type product, at the drugstore and you’re all good. Why is that? Because petroleum jelly works in the short term. It almost instantly makes skin feels softer and soothed, and helps to seal in moisture our skin is crying out for right about now.

Trouble is, petroleum jelly (petrolatum) often contains cancer causing contaminants. As a matter of fact, the European Union considers the ingredient carcinogenic and restrict its use in cosmetics.

Aside from that nasty news, petroleum jelly is occlusive, meaning it forms a barrier on the skin. In the moisturizer world, there are humectants, emollients, and occlusives. Humectants draw moisture from the air to the skin. Emollients are moisturizing ingredients that soak into the skin, filling dry cracks and areas.

Occlusive agents are meant to hold in moisture and prevent dryness. They usually feel greasy on the skin and can cause clogged pores and acne. Some natural ingredients are also occlusive (beeswax, mango butter, cocoa butter…) and work the same way as petroleum jelly, creating a water loss barrier on the skin only sans the carcinogenic contaminants. Due to the comedogenic nature of occlusives, it’s a good idea for those with oily or acne prone skin to use minimally.

But here we are in the midst of dry skin season. Even if you are on the oilier side, now is the time to get in on some of the benefits of these ingredients to deal with problem skin.

I have three favorite petroleum-jelly-type products that are all natural and work even better. You are going to love them!

3 Natural Skin Products That Kick Aquaphor to the Curb

True Organic of Sweden All You Need Is Me

1. True Organic of Sweden All You Need is Me :: Love the name, love the product. This one is new to me this season and can’t imagine going through another winter without it. It looks and feels just like Aquaphor coming out of the tube, but once you rub it into skin…seems to evaporate with no oil slick left behind. I use it religiously on my fingertips, cuticles, dry spots on face, and anywhere else that is just a little bit ( or a lot bit) too dry.

Waxelene

2. Waxelene :: Called “The Petroleum Jelly Alternative” this is the one to get if you are into using petroleum jelly straight up. It’s a simple four ingredient mix that comes in a either a tube or jar. No icky stuff, just real deal moisture for ultra parched skin.

SKIN Claramint Lip Balm

2. SKIN Claramint Lip Balm :: I had to include this one here, even though it is decidedly minty, unlike Vaseline or Aquaphor. It is the exact consistency of petroleum jelly, super smooth and clear, and works like a charm on dry, chapped lips. I use it every single night before bed and it is always on when I wake up in the morning. Oh, and a lil dab’ll do ya.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash