What ingredients should we avoid in our skin care products

We use a wide variety of cosmetic and skin care products on ourselves and our children on a regular basis.  We don't give much thought to the ingredients they contain and usually trust that they are safe for if they are sold in most drugstores.
 
Actually that is not the case, there are many skincare products on the market that have questionable and dangerous ingredients. Some of these ingredients include synthetic fragrances, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS, Phthalates, and Parabens and by products such as formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane.
 
We've heard some of these listed before but what are they and why should we avoid them.
 
Parabens are preservatives that are often added to products in order to extend their shelf life. Manufacturing companies use them to their benefit with little regard to the harmless effects on us the consumers. Parabens have adverse effects on us  including estrogenic qualities.  In laboratory testing they have produced abnormal hormonal effects on animals especially in males.  The application of parabens has resulted in decreased testosterone levels and other varied abnormalities. They have also been found to accumulate in the breast tissue of women with breast cancer.

Phthalates are chemical compounds that are basically used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility).  Why we need plasticizers in our cosmetics and skin care is beyond me yet we can find them in cosmetics, soaps, lotions and creams. High Phthalates doses have shown hormonal activity in animal studies and have resulted in damage to the liver, the kidneys, the lungs, and the developing testes.
 
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS is used to create the foaming lather in our shampoos and cleansers.   Most people think that when something foams up it has greater cleaning ability and manufacturers being clever, use them to make us believe their products are effective.  SLS is a known skin irritant and when companies test new healing ointments or crèmes, SLS is the irritant they first rub on the skin to irritate it so they can then see how well their new product works to heal the inflammation.  According to the journal of the American College of Toxicology, SLS  infiltrate the eyes, brain, heart, and liver with potentially harmful effects. At the very least,   SLS can cause rashes, eczema and other skin irritations. Don't be fooled by labels that say "Natural", some SLS are derived from coconut oil and manufacturers use this to label their products and gain consumer confidence.
 
Then, there is whole issue of synthetic perfumes or fragrances which can contain wide variety chemicals.  Some, such as methylene chloride are carcinogenic and others might cause other side effects such headaches, dizziness, coughing, vomiting and skin irritation.
 
While we may wonder what these ingredients are doing in our cosmetics and skin care products, all we can do is read labels carefully and educate ourselves on the ingredients to avoid.   Unfortunately, many trusted brand names and even baby care products contain many of these harmful ingredients.  Do a quick search online and you will find many news reports finding toxic substances in our baby products. Many of the ingredients I have mentioned actually go under different names as well, which can further add to the confusion. 
 
The best solution is to find some trusted companies that are committed to providing safe skin care and stick to their product lines knowing they have done their homework.  Choose organic and natural products but beware of misleading labels.   Unfortunately, this is not always an easy task but at least this way you can feel comfortable about what you and your family are putting on their skin.

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