For a much longer list of potentially toxic skin, hair and nail-care ingredients, click this link.
The longer I work with truly natural ingredients, the more aware I become of the toxicity of many of the commercially available products I used to use! I have always found the ingredients listed on skin, hair and nail-care labels challenging, if not down right impossible to decipher! Even the products I was using on my dogs were not truly natural and definitely not absolutely safe. With time, research and tenacity, I have now however developed recipes as natural alternatives – including a grooming dog spray, effective insect repellent, skin & hair care products, as well as botanical, oil-based perfumes with essential oils.
Fortunately, and with my sincerest gratitude, I found Ms. M. Stewart’s writing, where she has summarized 10 categories of ingredients to avoid in your skin care, hair care & nail-care products. Some are common sense, while others help you and I better understand the sometimes incomprehensible ingredient list on the everyday products we consume.
Stewart has also provided critical empirical evidence for avoiding the use of these ingredients – empowering you and I as consumers to make healthier and safer purchasing choices.
- Synthetic Fragrances: Listed broadly as ‘fragrance’ on labels. May cause skin irritation and headaches. Choose instead fragrance-free products or those that list only essential oils, not fragrance.
- Parabens: Found in toothpaste, shampoo, makeup and moisturizers – any ingredients with methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, listed as well as isobutylparaben. Animal studies reveal that these have estrogenic effects.
- Petroleum distillates: Often listed as liquid paraffin or petroleum. The European Union has restricted or banned these ingredients because of their association with cancer.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate: Harsh ingredient found in face & body cleansers.
- Phthalates: Are plasticized chemicals that are suspected endocrine disrupters. Listed as DBP or phthalates on nail polish, shampoo, and fragrance labels.
- Diethanolamine: Listed as DEA on shampoo labels. Intended to increase lather, it has been shown to increase liver tumors in lab animals.
- Hydroquinone: Skin-lightening agent in skin creams and under-eye treatments – evidence linking this ingredient to cancer in lab animals.
- Formaldehyde: May still be found in nail polish & hair-straightening salon treatments even though it is known as a skin and respiratory system irritant and considered a carcinogen by health agencies.
- Phenylenediamine: Ingredient found in hair dyes – PPD – may cause irritation to the lungs and nervous system.
- Talc: a suspected carcinogen found in body powder and makeup. Look for cornstarch-based or talc-free formulas instead.
Reference: Martha Stewart, Living the Good Long Life: A Practical Guide to Caring for Yourself and Others, 2013 (p. 240).