March 15, 2021
We are all aware of the importance of the quality of the food we put in our bodies. Few of us, however, think about the quality of the ingredients of what put on our bodies. Think of your skin as another organ that works like a giant sponge, soaking up everything we put on it from the soap we use in, to the moisturizer we apply. Our skin absorbs everything. This means that our personal care products can have either a positive or a negative impact on our health.
Studies done by the FDA from 2019 and 2020 show the active ingredients in sunscreen show up in our blood stream after as little as one application. Even more disturbingly, these chemicals are still detectable weeks later.
This drives home the point that the beauty products we use affect us in a way that is more than skin deep. So, if we care enough to eat organic broccoli, we should think about what is in our personal care products as well.
Most people know how to read food labels, but how many know how to read a personal care product label? All those long chemical names sound like mumbo jumbo. Below are the main ingredients for you to steer clear from.
1. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): BHA is a known endocrine disruptor and BHT is a likely endocrine disruptor. And, as per the National Toxicology Program, BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.
2. Parabens (especially propyl-, butyl-, isopropyl-, and isobutyl- parabens): Generally used as preservatives in cosmetics, these chemicals are potential endocrine disruptors. The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products showed that these chemicals can cause reproductive and developmental disorders which include hormone-related cancers (breast, ovarian, prostate), possibly cause early onset of puberty in girls, and may cause feminization of male fetuses in gestation.
3. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) and anything ending with -eth: These are conditioning and cleaning agents frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is known to penetrate the skin, and is considered a probable human carcinogen by the US government.
What Do You Use?
So, now that we know the problem ingredients, here are a few examples of products we like. When choosing, we think simple! Look for products that are organic and fragrance free. A fantastic resource is the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetic’s DataBase https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. The EWG rates products based on their hazard potential. 1=lowest hazard to 10= highest hazard.
TMC staffers top green hygiene picks:
Dr. Morrison* & Kristen, RN: Neutrogena oil free moisture SPF (EWG: 3-5)
*Dr. Morrison applies pure zinc oxide to his nose on especially sunny days (EWG: 1)
Kristen, RN: Little Seed Farm milk soaps (EWG: 1)
Face and Body Lotion
Sarah, NP: Weleda Skin Food (EWG: 4*)
*The higher score is due to Fragrance listed as an ingredient, but Weleda specifies on their website they only use essential oils as Fragrance which would not increase their hazard score.
Shampoo & Conditioner
Sarah, NP and Gaby, RN: Acure shampoo and conditioner (EWG: 2-4)
Terrence, Supplement Mgr.: Crest 3D White Charcoal (EWG: 3)
Lillian, MA: Beekman 1802 Milk (EWG: 1)
Kerry, RN: Rael organic cotton menstrual pads (Not Rated)
Other products that got top rated by our staffers
Sunscreen SuperGoop! (EWG 2)
Deodorant Agent Nateur Holi stick N3 (EWG 1)
The Ordinary Vitamin C serum (EWG 2)
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser (EWG 2)
Alitura Night cream (NR)
Agent Nateur Holi Glow ageless eye serum (EWG 1)
Toothpaste Auromere (EWG 3)
One of our favorite sources for green personal care products is:
Knockout Beauty www.knockoutbeauty.com
Matta, M. K., Florian, J., Zusterzeel, R., Pilli, N. R., Patel, V., Volpe, D. A., Yang, Y., Oh, L., Bashaw, E., Zineh, I., Sanabria, C., Kemp, S., Godfrey, A., Adah, S., Coelho, S., Wang, J., Furlong, L. A., Ganley, C., Michele, T., & Strauss, D. G. (2020). Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 323(3), 256–267. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.20747
Matta, M. K., Zusterzeel, R., Pilli, N. R., Patel, V., Volpe, D. A., Florian, J., Oh, L., Bashaw, E., Zineh, I., Sanabria, C., Kemp, S., Godfrey, A., Adah, S., Coelho, S., Wang, J., Furlong, L. A., Ganley, C., Michele, T., & Strauss, D. G. (2019). Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 321(21), 2082–2091. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.55
Search results || skin deep® cosmetics database. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php
Commissioner, O. (n.d.). Shedding new light on Sunscreen Absorption. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-voices/shedding-new-light-sunscreen-absorption