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FEATURE - May 2019

Stop! Do You Know What You Are Putting On Your Skin?


by  Karen Ives


One of the most important parts of living is looking and feeling our best.  We spend a lot of time and money in search of the perfect magic solution, and we are promised amazing results, but at what price?

Most of us have NO IDEA what is in the beauty and skin care products we used this morning.  We are either uninformed or unconcerned with safety and often believe that someone, somewhere, is watching out for us.  Not So!  You may think that if it on a store shelf, it is safe.  WRONG.  The FDA has no authority to require companies to test products for safety.

There are hundreds of deadly chemicals that are commonly used in skin care products.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) states that the average adult uses 10 personal care products each day, with 150 unique chemical ingredients.  

Do you know the lipstick you are wearing or kissing, may contain lead?  Do you know that your mascara may contain mercury? The products that we smear and rub into our skin and onto our faces may be harming us irreparably, and we don’t even know it.  Consumers can be exposed to several toxins in “beauty” and “health” products through skin absorption, inhalation, and ingestion.   We think because we pay a higher price our cosmetics are safe; when in fact many are linked to cancer, hormone disruption and other health risks.  

Some of the ingredients in beauty products aren’t that pretty.  U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. Many products include plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (they reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks). Imagine what that does to your skin, your internal organs, and the environment. 

How do you feel about using those types of products on your delicate skin?  Even in small, cosmetics-sized doses, exposure to these toxic ingredients can become dangerous.

Have you heard of the Dirty Dozen of Skin Care?  You can avoid harmful chemicals when you audit your bathroom and make-up stash using this list of harmful ingredients:

1) BHA and BHT:  Common preservatives, BHA and BHT are found mainly in moisturizers and makeup. BHA and BHT are known to have adverse affects on the reproductive system and immune system. They are suspected to disrupt the endocrine system and may cause cancer.

2) Coal Tar Dyes:  Occurs naturally in coal, crude oil and gasoline. These are found commonly in shampoos and cosmetics that are dyed (such as hair dye). Coal Tar Dyes are recognized as a human carcinogen, and many contain low levels of heavy metals, which can be linked to brain damage.

3) DEA-Related Ingredients (Diethanolamine):  DEA compounds are the chemicals used to make our cosmetics creamy and foamy, so they are routinely used in moisturizers and shampoos. On a surface level, DEA’s can cause skin and eye irritation. High doses of DEA can cause cancer.

4) DBP:  Nail care products, such as nail polish, use Dibutyl Phthalate as a solvent for dyes. It is also used as a plasticizer, which keeps nail polishes from becoming brittle. It is banned from being an ingredient in cosmetics in Europe. The effects of DBP are far-reaching. For adults, DBP impairs fertility. For young girls, Dibutyl Phthalate has been shown to cause early puberty. And there is evidence that it leads to developmental defects in unborn babies.

5) Formaldehyde:  Formaldehyde is a preservative used to increase the shelf life of cosmetics. It is a known carcinogen, as well as a toxin to the immune system. Cosmetics which utilize Formaldehyde continuously release small amounts of the chemical, which are leeched into the body.

6) Parabens:  Chemicals with many uses for the cosmetic industry, including as a preservative and antifungal/antimicrobial agent. 75-90 percent of cosmetics contain parabens, and are most commonly found in lotions, creams and underarm deodorant. Parabens are some of the chemicals most easily absorbed by the skin, and linked to breast cancer, male reproductive functions, hormonal disruptions and DNA damage. Not-so-Fun Fact: parabens are registered with the government as a pesticide!

7) Fragrance:  We love to smell good, right? Unfortunately, there is a price to pay to enhance your scent: the 3000 different chemicals that are used to create synthetic fragrances are linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, triggering allergies and asthma, and even cancer. Parfum has been found in some products marketed as “unscented.”  

8) PEG Compounds:  If you use cream-based cosmetics, you have most likely encountered PEG’s. They are used as softeners, solvents, thickeners and moisture-carriers. Polyethylene Glycols are shown to irritate the skin but have also been linked to contaminants that cause cancer.

9) Petrolatum:  A mineral jelly oil used in hair products, lip balms and moisturizers to lock in moisture. It is the bi-product of the manufacturing of sudsing cosmetics including shampoos, body wash and children’s bath products. Europe has deemed Petrolatum as a carcinogen and restricts it being used in cosmetics. And while it is ranked as a possible carcinogen in America, the United States government has placed no restrictions on its usage. Petrolatum may also cause allergies or skin irritation in small doses.

10) Siloxanes:  Siloxanes are used in hair care products and deodorants to soften, smooth and moisten. They also aide hair products in drying more quickly. When checking ingredient lists, look for words ending in ‘-siloxane’ or ‘-methicone.’ Siloxanes inhibits hormone function and have been found to harm the reproductive and immune systems. They may also impair fertility.

11) SLS:   SLS’s are used to make cosmetic products foamy, and therefore found in shampoos, cleansers, bubble baths and cleaning detergents. These chemicals can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, both of which may cause cancer. SLS’s can have an adverse affect on the nervous system and human development. 

12) Triclosan:  This chemical can be found as an antibacterial agent in cosmetics products such as toothpaste, cleanser, antiperspirant/deodorant and hand sanitizer. This is another cosmetic ingredient that has been classified as a pesticide by the US government. Not only is it an endocrine disrupter, but it disrupts normal breast growth and contributes to bacterial resistance.

Remember this is only a tiny fraction of the deadly chemicals in your beauty and skin care products.  There are hundreds being discovered every year.

It is important that the public is educated about potentially harmful ingredients in our personal care products.  As the saying goes… ”There’s An App For That”.  The EWG has developed an App “Think Dirty” to check your cosmetic products for harmful ingredients.  At the very least, when you go to the beauty counter or drug store, read your ingredients. Make your body and the environment happy! 



Evolving Magazine

Kansas City

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Karen Ives is the founder and President of NasCia Naturals, LLC.  The Company was founded in 2009 after developing and manufacturing natural skin care products for herself for several years.  Karen formulates and manufactures all bath and body and skin care products sold by NasCia Naturals.  Her natural cosmetic line is manufactured in an FDA approved lab. NasCia Naturals products may be purchased online at or you may request a personal consultation.



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