Lotion No-Nos: Toxic Ingredients in Your Moisturizer

For today’s post, I wanted to spend some time looking at why it’s so important to use natural skin care products. More importantly, let’s talk about why the gunk in so many big-name lotions is a big no-no for your skin. One of the reasons I started making my own cosmetics was to protect my own easily-irritated skin from harsh chemicals found in many commercial products.

Side note: Of course great skin starts with good nutrition, sleep, and then all of our favorite beauty products. No cream or cleanser can erase a week of bad sleep or all the leftover Halloween candy hanging around –although I certainly wish it could!

The Bad Stuff

Most lotions you’ll find in mass production are water-based and contain a lot of nasty additives that really don’t belong on your skin. You are what you put on! Every day we’re putting some funky stuff into our bodies via our skin (just think how often you put on lotion, deodorant, and makeup!).

There’s a good reason so many companies put all these fillers in their products. Most of them are inexpensive preservatives or emulsifiers (something that bonds two substances together that normally can’t mix – most commonly, water based substances to oil based substances).

Here are some common ingredients in lotions and butter and why they don’t belong in your skin care regime:

  • Alcohol – This is found in quite a few cosmetic products, not just moisturizers. We’re not talking about your favorite margs and vino here. This stuff is plain, old-fashioned rubbing alcohol. It has valid uses, but it shouldn’t be in your moisturizer. Alcohol dries out the skin, and strips it of its natural oils. So if that lotion you’re putting on feels great at first, and then you find yourself using it more and more frequently for dry skin, you might want to check the label.

  • Parabens – These come in many forms: ethyl, methyl, propyl, butyl, and more. They’re usually used as a preservative. Unfortunately, parabens are also found in tumors from breast cancer. I don’t know about you, but that’s a deal-breaker for me.

  • Petrolatum – Petrolatum (more commonly called petroleum) is a cheap filler that clogs pores. Clogged pores mean that your body can’t absorb moisture properly (or release it properly). Clogged pores can also cause chapped skin. No thanks. Mineral oil is another filler to look out for, because it’s is essentially processed petroleum.

  • Disodium EDTA – This is a chemical that’s used primarily to prevent lotion from breaking down and to preserve fragrance (and give your soap more foam – because, really, who doesn’t like foam?). It’s in a ton of cosmetics, which is surprising when you look at some of the harmful effects that have been connected to it. Some studies have found EDTA to be associated with reproductive issues, some mineral deficiencies, and kidney problems. To be fair, there are good uses for EDTA; but those are for medical purposes, not cosmetic. While this chemical has its purposes, I don’t think it should be slathered on your skin every day.

  • Glyceral Oleate: This is an emulsifying agent used in lots of products. In studies in rats, this product produced brain tumors and tumors in the digestive tract of the rats. Studies ultimately deemed it safe “in low concentrations”, but doesn’t specify what that amount is. Personally, I don’t find that terribly reassuring.

Of course, there are many more hidden additives in cosmetics to watch out for. We found these two posts helpful: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5971/12-Toxic-Ingredients-to-AVOID-in-Cosmetics-Skin-Care-Products-Infographic.html and http://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/top-ingredients-to-avoid-in-personal-care-products.aspx#axzz3IPAbMJKo.

The bottom line? Read the ingredients, and stay away from skin-drying, tumor-inducing products.

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