Cosmetic concerns: what toxins to avoid in your skin care

A recent study in the United Kingdom found the average British woman wears more than 500 chemicals every day.

These potentially-toxic ingredients come in the form of fragrances, lotions, makeup, shampoos and conditioners, and other body products. This puts the largest organ of your body — your skin — under constant siege. The onslaught can lead to hormonal changes, cancers, allergies, nervous system disorders, and more.

Since there are no safety regulations for cosmetics, companies are free to use whatever they want, putting you at potential risk with every product you buy.

In the poll, conducted by deodorant maker Bionsen, more than a third of the women reported not knowing the key ingredients in their beauty products. A mere nine percent said they knew the ingredients they were putting on their bodies.

How well do you know your beauty products?

Take a look at the back of your bottle of shampoo, or better yet, your perfume. Fragrances can be one of the worst culprits — containing as many as 400 different chemicals. Even when chemicals are listed, fragrances — considered a company’s secret ingredients — don’t have to be listed at all.

Even so, a look at the back of the bottle should give you a good idea of what kind of product you are putting on your body.

These are just some of the ingredients to watch out for, according to the Environmental Working Group:

DMDM hydantoin and Imidazolidinyl urea, which contain toxic contaminants
Fragrance and dyes, which can cause allergies, cancer, and nervous system damage
Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone, which cause allergies, nervous system damage
Parabens or “-paraben”, which cause hormonal changes
“PEG” and “-eth”, containing toxic contaminants
Sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, which can cause skin damage, and contain toxic contaminants
Triclosan and triclocarban, which cause thyroid and environmental concerns
Triethanolamine (TEA), which cause allergies, and contain toxic contaminants

It can be mind-boggling to think that this list only covers the basics for cosmetics. There are many more to avoid in sunscreens, children’s products, hair dyes, and hand soaps. And just because something says “natural” or “organic” on the label doesn’t mean it’s safe. Again, there are no regulations as to what chemicals can be included in a bottle of shampoo that may also herald its one “organic” ingredient.

The rule of thumb — the fewer ingredients the better. The simpler, more natural products the better.

At Nature Cures Clinic, our mission for healthy skin lies in our name. Nature does indeed cure, as we show with the skin care products we share with our patients. Nature Cures’ Dr. Hilary Costello has created a line of products which use natural, healing ingredients.  Give us a call at (503) 287-4970 to discuss our skin care approach, or check in with Dr. Costello on her page.

Isn’t it time to protect the largest organ on your body, and pay attention to what you put on it?