What are you Putting on Your Skin? Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare

By Caitlin Moakley of Soil & Spirit

With so many skincare products available to consumers, how can we navigate aisles and online marketplaces to find the healthiest products for our skin?

As someone who scours ingredient lists and analyzes brands from a 360-degree angle for a living, I want to share what you can do to investigate the ingredients in your personal care products before making your next purchase.

Keep it simple.

A longer ingredient list doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Often lurking in long lists are preservatives and fillers that dilute key ingredients. Did you know that in most cases, an FDA compliant personal care product has to list ingredients in descending order of predominance? There are exceptions to this rule such as colorants, fragrances, flavors, and ingredients with a concentration of 1% or less – these can be listed in any order after the dominant ingredients are listed.

The ingredients we put onto our skin have the potential to be absorbed into our bloodstream, which can create health issues. On top of personal health, the use of toxic chemicals in skincare can affect our environmental health. In most of our personal care routines, we are washing product down the drain, into our water supply: brushing our teeth, showering, doing dishes, washing clothes, etc. all of these tasks involve mixing personal care products with our water supply. When I buy a product I think: what would happen if I ate or drank this?

What are some ingredients to avoid?

If you have access to organic and local products and ingredients, go for it! These are easy ways to support local businesses and organic agriculture.

An ingredient you won’t see on a product label? Intention. Make sure you are looking into a brand’s mission before you choose to vote with your dollar.

While there are thousands of potentially toxic ingredients on the market, it’s important to do our own personal research before we put products on our skin. If you’re looking for resources to help you further investigate ingredients, check out these resources:

Environmental Working Group (App)

Think Dirty (App)

Beauty Lies Truth (Website)

Cambridge Naturals (Cambridge, MA)

The Human Experiment (Film)

Protect Our Breasts (Organization)

No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt

Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacy Malkan