By Jenny Buttaccio
Last month, we gave you an introduction into a few of the tricky Ingredients that might be hiding in your beauty products. This month, we delve a little (skin) deeper into a list of questionable chemicals often the subject of debate in the beauty world. We know that the skin absorbs up to 60% of what’s put on it; substances absorb through the skin and enter the bloodstream (Edmunds, 2013). We want to educate you about different chemicals so you make informed choices about the products you put on your body. Here are 4 ingredients you’ll want to consider when pursuing sustainable, green beauty.
1. Talc- Talc is a mineral consisting primarily of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It’s a common ingredient in products such as baby powder, deodorant, cosmetics, mineral makeup, and more. In its powder form, it’s used to absorb moisture and keep skin dry.
The safety of talc has been in question for decades. Research on the subject yields a mixed bag of results about the dangers of its use. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS, 2014), talcum powder (the crushed up form of talc) historically contained asbestos– a substance linked to cancer of the lungs. While consumer products have contained asbestos-free talc since the 1970’s, there’s a hazy connection between the present day use of talc and an increase in ovarian cancer (ACS, 2014). Although studies have not produced any conclusive evidence of this connection, the carcinogenic uncertainties of talc are a cause for concern.
Furthermore, repeated inhalation of products that contain talc– such as daily use of traditional baby powder– can potentially result in a rare, inflammatory lung condition known as Talcosis (Frank & Jorge, 2011). It is unclear what percentage of the population this affects.
Despite ambiguous reports, Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety lists the use of talc as restricted in baby products indicating it could be dangerous to infants and children (2014). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates talc as a moderate health risk, citing contamination of asbestos fibers, which can contribute to lung issues and cancer (n.d).
2. Titanium Dioxide- This ingredient is a natural occurring mineral in white crystals or powder form. Because of its white pigment, it’s used in everything from paint and plastics to sunscreens, mineral makeup, and other cosmetics (“Carex Canada,” 2015). The use of titanium dioxide in skincare products has been a source of controversy in recent years; this is mainly due to emerging technology that reduces the particle size to ultrafine nanoparticles used in many face and body care products. The impact that these particles have on people and the environment are not yet well understood. However, research suggests that continuous inhalation of titanium dioxide nanoparticles could accumulate in the lungs posing an irritation and inflammation risk, and potential exposure to a carcinogen.
Additionally, titanium dioxide nanoparticles, like those found in some sunscreens, endanger our environment. After we apply sunscreen and go swimming, much of the sunscreen washes off leaving those chemicals in the water. Preliminary studies show titanium dioxide nanoparticles threaten the growth and development of precious coral reefs (Studholme, n.d).
3. Silicones/Dimethicones- Silicone is a synthetic slip-agent found in lots of products the average person uses daily. There are several kinds of silicones (Chanler, 2012), but the most common and cheap type is dimethicone (Ewell, 2014). The reason silicone is such a popular additive in skincare is because it gives products spreadability, smoothness, and a velvety texture. What initially looks like desirable qualities for a product, may actually backfire with prolonged usage, leading to a whole host of skin woes.
Let me explain. Silicone creates a barrier on the skin, which inhibits the skin’s normal functions like sweating and sloughing off dead skin. Bacteria and oil can become trapped underneath this barrier causing irritation, breakouts, blackheads, or dryness. Consequently, this chemical is likely to perpetuate the signs of aging.
4. Phenoxyethanol- Phenoxyethanol is a frequently used chemical preservative providing an array of antimicrobial activity against bacteria, mold, and yeasts. Manufacturers use it as a replacement for parabens; it’s one of the few preservatives that doesn’t release formaldehyde. Because of this, even skincare products claiming to be “all natural” contain phenoxyethanol.
In high concentrations, it’s been linked to skin and lung irritation, and toxicity of the kidneys, nervous system, and liver (“The Dermatology Review,” n.d.). Therefore, the current FDA standards recommend phenoxyethanol be used in concentrations of less than 1% in product formulations.
Nevertheless, in low concentrations, some experts believe phenoxyethanol is still toxic. For example, EWG (n.d.) lists it as a moderate hazard and mentions skin, eye, mouth, and lung irritation as possible side effects. According to The Dermatology Review (n.d.), it can also cause allergic reactions, worsen Eczema, and be harmful if ingested by infants. As it turns out, phenoxyethanol may be transmitted to infants through breast milk; it’s best for new mothers to avoid this product altogether.
At Noktivo, we believe in Glam Without The Garbage. We try to avoid chemicals that could potentially be toxic to our bodies, our children’s bodies and the environment. As an alternative, we offer high-quality products free from talc, titanium dioxide, silicones, and phenoxyethanol. Please visit our online shop to find an amazing selection of green, beauty options for you and your family. We have a great selection of body serums, facial serums and oils, and moisturizers that will leave your skin hydrated and nourished the way nature intended.
Did you find this article helpful? As always, we would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave us a comment below.
American Cancer Society. (2014, November 21). Talcum Powder and Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/talcum-powder-
Carex Canada. (2015, March). Titanium Dioxide. Retrieved from http://www.carexcanada.ca/en/titanium_dioxide/
Chandler, A. (2012, September). The truth about silicones. Best Health. Retrieved from http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-looks/beauty/the-truth-about-silicones
The Dermatology Review. (n.d.). Phenoxyethanol. Retrieved from http://www.thedermreview.com/phenoxyethanol/
Edmunds, T. (2013, June 6). Food for Thought: The body absorbs what is put on the skin. The News-Herald. Retrieved from http://www.thenewsherald.com/articles/2013/06/06/ile_camera/localnews/doc51a67839c14c6578254558.txt
Environmental Working Group (n.d.). Talc. Retrieved from http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706427/TALC/#
Environmental Working Group (n.d.). Phenoxyethanol. Retrieved from http://www.thedermreview.com/phenoxyethanol/
Ewell, K. (2014, July 14). Silicones: Separating The Good From the Not-So-Good. xoVain. Retrieved from http://www.xovain.com/hair/silicones-in-hair-and-skin-products-to-avoid
Frank, C. & Lascano, J. (2011, March 2). An uncommon hazard: Pulmonary talcosis as a result of recurrent aspiration of baby powder. Respiratory Medicine CME, 4 (3), 109-111. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1755001711000091
Health Canada. (2014, April 22). Consumer Product Safety: Changes to the Consumer Ingredient Hotlist. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/cosmet-person/hot-list-critique/changes-modifications-eng.php
Studholme, J. (n.d) Sunscreen Nanoparticles Harm Sea Life. Skuba News. Retrieved from http://news.scubatravel.co.uk/sunscreen-sea-life-vulnerable-toxins.html
The team from Noktivo shares tips, tricks and tidbits for greening your beauty routine. <3