What’s In Your Skincare?

The skincare industry is filled with creams, serums, cleansers, and other products that promise to maintain skin health. Although cosmetics and other skincare products are FDA-regulated, the industry is not FDA-approved. This simple distinction has allowed the skincare industry to grow into a billion-dollar juggernaut, with new ingredients hitting the market regularly. While brands claim ingredients are safe, many are harmful and toxic, with users unaware of the long-term effects of certain products. Here are 5 harmful ingredients that should be avoided.

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1. Check for phthalates

This word may seem hard to pronounce, but phthalates are hiding inside many popular skincare brands. Phthalates are a group of esters from phthalic acid and a critical ingredient in plastics. Without phthalates, plastics lack durability and flexibility. In cosmetics, this chemical is added for the gel-like texture, shine, and flexibility. Studies show phthalates are endocrine disruptors, chemicals that affect hormones, especially those involved in reproduction. Steer clear of dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), and other derivatives.

2. Pause on parabens

Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives in cosmetics. Skincare brands add parabens to help avoid bacteria and other harmful compounds from forming. This class of chemicals also makes skincare products last longer, which benefits both the manufacturer and consumers. Parabens are commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, makeup, and moisturizers. Like phthalates, parabens are endocrine disruptors. This chemical acts like estrogen, which can cause long-term harm. Studies show prolonged paraben use impacts male reproductive health, including sperm quality.

3. Sus out sulfates

Sulfates give soaps, toothpaste, shampoos, and cleansers the lather and foam effect. These particular chemicals are called surfactants, aimed at removing dirt and oil from the surface level of skin or hair. Surfactants and sulfates aren’t inherently bad. However, in high concentrations, these chemicals can cause damage to the skin. By continuously stripping away excess oil and moisture, the skin is more likely to develop acne, dryness, and premature signs of aging.

4. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde has been an active ingredient in construction, fabrics, paper, and cleaning supplies for decades. In cosmetics, formaldehyde is a preservative but can also be an allergen. Formaldehyde is also a carcinogen, a substance capable of causing cancer. While most products strive to remove formaldehyde from the ingredient list, this isn’t always the case.

5. Ditch the fragrance

Why would fragrance be a harmful ingredient? Fragrances give skincare products a fantastic smell that encourages continued use of the product. However, the word fragrance on the ingredient list is an umbrella term for a mixture of chemicals. Fragrances can contain hundreds of harmful, toxic additives, dyes, carcinogens, and other unpleasant elements. If the source of the scent is not clearly defined, use caution.

Should you try compounding?

What if there was a way to know the exact ingredients in a skincare product? With compounding, this may be possible. Compounding is the ability to create medication, therapies, and other formulations in-house. In other words, a pharmacist can produce a drug or product from raw ingredients, meeting the patient’s specific needs. Compounding is also possible in dermatology. Local pharmacists can create both prescription and non-prescription products for patients. The advantages include more active ingredients, fewer allergies, and more transparency.

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