Living a healthy lifestyle includes following a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. It’s not just about what you put in your body, however, it’s also about what you put on it.
Taking care of your skin is an essential element in protecting your overall health and the ingredients used in your products matter. While you may think a drugstore moisturizer might do the trick for cheap, some products do more harm over time than good.
Synthetic fragrances, chemical preservatives, and other additives can irritate the skin as well as contribute to health problems. It’s well worth taking the time to read the label before you make a skincare purchase.
Reading skincare labels is a great start, but it won’t help unless you know what you’re looking for. Here’s what you need to know about some of the worst skincare ingredients you’ll want to avoid.
1. Synthetic Fragrance
There’s no harm in choosing skincare products that are fragranced, but it’s important to know what kind of fragrance is being used. Natural fragrances derived from essential oils are skin-safe, but synthetic or chemical fragrances can irritate the skin. Unfortunately, companies aren’t required to disclose specific ingredients – they can simply list “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label.
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas used in a wide variety of household products. In skincare and cosmetics, you’ll often find it in nail polish, lash glue, and hair straightening products. Decades of research have identified formaldehyde as a carcinogen but it’s still a very common ingredient.
Consumer awareness about the dangers of formaldehyde is increasing but there’s less public knowledge about formaldehyde releasers – chemical preservatives that slowly release formaldehyde. Examples include bronopol, quaternium-15, imidazolidinyl urea, and diazolidinyl urea.
There are thousands of synthetic fragrances but one of the big categories to watch out for is phthalates. More specifically, phthalates are used to help fragrance stick to the skin – it’s also used in nail polish and lash glue. Not only are phthalates bad for the environment but they’re known endocrine disruptors. This can lead to biological responses such as developmental issues, increased risk of cancer, and more.
Parabens like bultyl, propyl, and ethyl parabens are preservatives used in cosmetics. A 2004 research study identified traces of parabens in breast cancer tissues, so they have become one of the most well-known skincare ingredients to avoid. Surprisingly, both EU and FDA regulations “officially” consider parabens safe in very small concentrations. You’d still be wise to avoid them, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Sulfates are generally used as cleansing and foaming agents, so you’ll find them in shampoo, household cleaners, and laundry detergent. The two most common are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Sulfates that are derived from petroleum can irritate the skin, lungs, and eyes and, when contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals.
Hand sanitizers and soaps often contain an antimicrobial ingredient called triclosan. Triclosan is quickly absorbed through the skin or mouth and has been shown to negatively affect hormone levels. This ingredient has been banned in several countries. In the United States, triclosan is banned for use in antiseptic soap but you can still find it in things like shaving cream, deodorant, and mouthwash.
Also known as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), toluene is a chemical sometimes used in hair dye and nail products. It has been linked to brain toxicity and is particularly dangerous for women during pregnancy. The use of toluene has been banned in the EU and parts of Asia as well as by a few retailers in the US, though there is no federal ban.
Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a class of chemicals used in hair products, shaving cream, and sunscreen. You can also find them in waterproof cosmetics like eyeliner or mascara. PFASs have been linked to serious health effects including thyroid disease and cancer. They have also been shown to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
A common ingredient in hair color and bleaching products, resorcinol has also been used as a tropical treatment for acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Though still approved for use, resorcinol has been known to cause toxicity in high doses and can disrupt the function of the central nervous system. It’s also been linked to skin irritation.
These compounds are used as emulsifiers in skincare products and cosmetics like foundation and mascara. The Environmental Working Group has classified ethanolamines as safe for cosmetic use, but they are a known allergen. If you have sensitive skin or allergies to specific ingredients, you may want to double check skincare labels for this ingredient.
Shop Safely with Yon-Ka Paris
French-inspired skincare brand Yon-Ka Paris is committed to encapsulating the power of nature through expertly formulated phyto-aromatic skincare treatments. We are proud of our eco-friendly practices and make every effort to utilize natural plant-based ingredients.
Yon-Ka’s skincare formulas are free from parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, and other potentially harmful additives. Below are two of our most popular naturally formulated products…
- Nude Perfect, a multi-purpose skin perfecter and primer, is composed of 96% ingredients of natural origin, including cosmos-certified organic ingredients. It’s naturally fragranced with the scent of magnolia and ylang-ylang and, of course, Yon-Ka’s proprietary Quintessence.
- Nutri+ Booster is composed of 99% natural ingredients including organic sunflower seed oil. This iconic facial oil nourishes and regenerates the skin without irritating sensitive skin.
When it comes to caring for your skin, knowledge is power. The more you know about what you’re putting on your skin, the more you’ll be able to make smart (and safe) decisions. Get customized skincare advice using the Yon-Ka Skincare Advisor or stop into your local Yon-Ka Paris partner spa for a skin consultation.