For most of my life, I had what I thought was extremely sensitive skin. Everything from mild pink rashes, to severe eczema up and down my arms and legs. I saw dermatologists, tried one prescription cream after another, and did a bevy of elimination diets. I carefully chose products that had “sensitive skin” written on the front of the bottles. There was no improvement overall, until I started to think about food labels.
Because of serious food allergies — including nuts — I had learned to read food labels early on. I hadn’t yet learned to read what I was putting on my skin, until about the age of 40. Understanding cosmetics labeling was just as important as food labeling. This was when I started making the connections from my products to skin health, and it all changed.
I learned what ingredients can cause skin reactions, and which ones are harmful to not only our skin but our whole health. That what we put on our skin actually goes into our bloodstreams, which affects much more than just our skin. How so many strong preservatives are used to keep products viable for years and years – way beyond what they need to be — and how those same preservatives cancel out the good stuff
With EWG’s Skin Deep database rating system, I was able to go through my bathroom, writing numbers on products with a Sharpie. The ones with a “1” or “2” rating stayed, and all the rest went. It was appalling to realize how so few products were safe – even brands I had believed to be because of their marketing claims and clean packaging.
I also learned the cosmetics industry is the US is not regulated, so companies can list whatever they want on the front of their product labels and websites.
This was when I started to make my own lotions, creams and serums, with organic, clean ingredients — with a balanced, safe preservative system. Miraculously, my skin rashes and discomfort all but disappeared. I no longer think of myself as having sensitive skin. It was simply reacting to all the toxic ingredients I was using.
It can be hard and confusing to figure out ingredient labels, but the extra time is well worth the effort. Because as consumers, we hold the power in our buying choices. And when we better understanding labels, we can change the industry. It’s already happening.
A good first place to start is looking at preservatives. Here is a list to steer clear from:
- Parabens (all its derivatives, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, etc.)
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
- C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
- Disodium EDTA
- DMDM Hydantoin
- Quaternion 15, 18, 26
- Tetrasodium EDTA
- Germaben ii
- Benzalkonium Chloride
- Cetalkonium Chloride
- Cetrimonium Chloride
- Stearalkonium Chloride
- Lauryl Dimonium Hydrolyzed Collagen
- Diethyl Ester Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride
- Dialkyl Dimethyl Ammonium Methyl Sulfate
- Hydroxethyl Methyl Ammonium Methyl Sulfate
- Chemical DTDMAC (Dimethyl Ditallow Ammonium Chloride)
You can find problematic ingredients with apps such as ThinkDirty or online resources like EWG to decipher ingredients. Don’t hesitate to contact brands if you have any questions about their products. A trustworthy brand will be happy to answer any ingredient-related questions.
Mineral & Co. uses organic oils and butters, no nut-based oils, no parabens, no phenoxyethanol, no silicones, no synthetic fragrances, no fillers. Our ingredients are clean, Earth-friendly and cruelty-free.
We believe that ethical, well-run businesses can have a positive impact on the world. Mineral & Co. is committed to our core values – including transparency — in every decision we make.
Sources and Resources:
- Skin Deep: On the Skin Deep website you can research single ingredients or a whole product (if it is in the database). It will tell you if there are any concerns about the ingredients, eg toxicity, irritation, contamination possibility.
- Honor Thy Label, Gero Leson, Dr. Bronner’s Unconventional Journey to a Clean, Green and Ethical Supply Chain.
- Think Dirty: App where you can scan and learn about ingredients.
- New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/09/opinion/cosmetics-safety-makeup.html
- Cosmetics Info: Here you can also search for ingredients to see what they are and what they do in a product.
- Paula’s Choice: This is a nice and simple dictionary of cosmetic ingredients and their function in a product.
- The Chemical Maze App: Easy-to-use app that included food additives and cosmetic ingredients.
- A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, 7th Edition: Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals, Ruth Winter
- Toxic Beauty: The hidden chemicals in cosmetics and how they can harm us, Dawn Mellowship