All the little choices you make in your daily life have a huge impact on your body. The FDA isn’t going to help you narrow things down since the health & beauty industry is more or less unregulated. Beauty companies don’t even need to list all the ingredients on their products! So when carcinogens are on the table with no real regulation to help you avoid them, you’ll want be careful to buy products that help you live your best life. Even some natural brands have carcinogens, so it’s important to do your research.

Ingredients to avoid and why to avoid them:

  • Carageenan – used as a thickener and has been linked to causing inflammation in our body and disrupting our digestive system.
  • Aluminium – often used in deodorants that are antiperspirants and prevents toxins from being expelled by the body. Ultimately this can cause clogged up lymph nodes around the armpits and breasts which has been linked to breast cancer.
  • GMOs – this list can go on and on but for the sake of keeping this brief genetically modified organisms are grown with toxic chemicals and end up being harmful to human health. Research has shown that GMO’s can damage your kidneys, liver, adrenal glands, spleen, heart and compromise your immune system.
  • Parabens – are widely used in cosmetics and known for disrupting hormone function.
  • Artificial food coloring – used in various household products, makeups and beauty products and have been known to cause allergic reactions.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – used in most hand soaps and face washes and is known to be a skin irritant. It can strip the skin of its natural oils which can cause dry skin, irritation and reactions.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) -has been know to be contaminated with a substance called 1,4-dioxane, which is known to cause cancer.
  • Triclosan – linked to the following effects on human health: Abnormal endocrine system/thyroid hormone signaling. Weakening of immune system. Children exposed to antibacterial products at an early age have an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA) – long terms use has been seen to cause reproductive, developmental, or carcinogenic effects.
  • Polyethelyne glycols (PEGs) propylene glycol – has been associated with cancer.
  • Any preservatives that release formaldehyde

Nanotechnology in our suncreen and beauty products

Nanotechnology is still a new form of science and because of this companies are not required to notify consumers if they are using nanoparticles. Why is this concerning? Well nanoparticles penetrate through several layers of skin within a matter of a few hours. The potential dangers of nanoparticles is still being discovered as doctors are just beginning to use this technology for super drugs. So yes, they are benefits to using nanotechnology say for the treatment of cancer in super drugs but using them on a day to day basis can be damaging to our cells. Researchers from MIT and the Harvard school of Public Health have discovered that certain nanoparicles can harm our DNA such as silver, zinc oxide, iron oxide, cerium oxide and silicon dioxide. A lot of these can be found in personal care products, toys, clothing and more. For example, zinc oxide is often found in our sunscreen and when produced in nanotechnology it can penetrate our skin and generate free radicals damaging our tissue and leading to disease over time. Scary to think that zinc oxide is often recommended to to use on our children!! Safe dosing is still being researched but you can view nanoparticles like anti-inflammatory drugs. Just like how ibuprofen is safe to use in small doses for aches and pains but repetitive use can damage our stomach. Same goes for nanoparticles – infrequent use may be fine but considering how often we use our beauty products using a natural product would be a safer bet.

So what do we do?

When possible use natural and safe cosmetic products. This is really important when you are using them on a daily basis especially if they stay on your skin all day like lotion, makeup and sunscreen. There are two different databases you can check your products against on Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and on Skin Deep Database. Additionally because nanoparticles can be traced in our foods it is important to chose fresh, local and organic foods whenever possible. It is unfortunate that nanotechnology is relatively unregulated which means many consumers are still in the dark about potential risks.

Helpful resources

Blogs/online publications: Goop, A Beautiful Mess, Harpers Bazaar

Databases: EWG’s skin deep cosmetics database, GoodGuide, the red list from Safe Cosmetics Campaign, and the Think Dirty app

Wanna skip the research and go straight to the good stuff?

Brands we love

Toothpaste – Jason or Toms

Deodorant – Kiss my face or Toms

Lotion – SheaMoisture or Nubian Heritage Raw Shea Butter

Sunscreen – Australian Gold Botantical and Badger

Shampoo – DpHue Apple Cider Vinegar or Grown Alchemist

Conditioner – Grown Alchemist

Face wash – Aesop – “I like this company because they are actually honest and open about using nanotechnology only in two of their products. They have an open forum where they will discuss any ingredient used in their products which I will link below.”

Aesop forum click here

Soap – Mrs. Meyers

For the littles

Infant sunscreen – Babyganics

Kids sunscreen – Kiss my Face Kids

Kids toothpaste – Jack n Jill natural toothpaste or Green People toothpaste