“Clean beauty” has gone from being a buzzword to a beauty mantra for many consumers. However, knowing what, exactly, to avoid and why can be confusing even to those who are committed to seeking out toxin-free products. Here, Kathryn Murray Dickinson, a former beauty industry executive and founder of the clean beauty company AILLEA, outlines the most common unhealthy ingredients used in conventional products, explains why we should be wary of them, and offers recommendations for safe and effective options to use instead.
What to Avoid #1: Parabens. Parabens are preservatives that are found in almost any beauty product. These alter hormone levels and have been linked to increased risk to breast cancer and reproductive issues. You will see them listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben on an ingredient list. Clean your routine by trying a paraben-free cleanser like Suki Skincare Moisture-Rich Cleansing Lotion.
What to Avoid #2: Sulfates. Sulfates are foaming agents commonly found in shampoos, body washes, and facial cleansers. They strip the skin of natural oils and can be contaminated with known carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane. Clean your routine by trying a sulfate-free gentle shampoo like Innersense Pure Harmony Hair Bath.
What to Avoid #3: Synthetic Fragrance. A major player in conventional beauty products, synthetic fragrance is simply labeled as “Fragrance” or “Perfume” on a cosmetic label. This blend is considered a “trade secret” and can include up to 5,000 undisclosed ingredients. Fragrance is linked to asthma, skin allergies, and an increased risk for cancer. Clean your routine by trying a safe moisturizing oil like Maya Chia Revitalizing Supercritical Body Oil.
What to Avoid #4: Pthalates. Found in most synthetic fragrances, makeup, lotion, and nail polish, phthalates are used to help scents last longer and to prevent nail polish from chipping. These are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity. Clean your routine by trying phthalate-free AILA Nail Polish.
What to Avoid #5: Petroleum Derivatives. Commonly listed as “Mineral oil” or “Petrolatum” on labels, petroleum derivatives are found in moisturizers, conditioners, and lip products. These can be contaminated with known carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and can disrupt your endocrine system. Clean your routine by trying a petroleum-free moisturizer like Indie Lee’s Squalane Facial Cream.
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