How-to-Choose Non-Toxic Skincare Products and Why

January 16, 2018


woman holding lip balms. title: how to choose non toxic skincare

On average, a woman uses 12 products containing a total of over 168 different ingredients daily.

Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, skin care, cosmetics, hair products, deodorant, and perfume are all products we may come in contact with before we even have our breakfast. Many of the ingredients in these products are formulated in a lab to penetrate into the skin's tissue and consequently into our bodies. For example, parabens (the most common preservative in commercial cosmetics and skincare) are so common that 99% of Canadians had it in their urine in a 2014/2015 Canadian Health Measures Survey. (1)

Our goal with this blog post is to gently remind our community about the high volume of ingredients we expose ourselves to on a daily basis and the simple ways to shop for fewer toxins at the store.

Toxic contaminants are added to products for other purposes... not because they are healthy. 

The purpose of many toxic contaminants in our personal care products are to:

  • Act as preservatives - prolong shelf life.
  • Act as fillers - reduce manufacturing costs
  • Make artificial scents - or mask unwanted scents (many unscented products have chemicals making this possible)
  • Make the product more convenient to the consumer - think aerosols, foams, wipes, some creams, waterproof, the list goes on.

The problem is substances such as phthalates, parabens, and fragrance easily pass through the skin's tissue and into the bloodstream. 

Phthalates (pronounced th-AL-eights) are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break like the rubber ducky.

They are often called plasticizers. They are used in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes). Phthalates are used widely in polyvinyl chloride plastics, which are used to make products such as plastic packaging film and sheets, garden hoses, inflatable toys, blood-storage containers, medical tubing, and some children’s toys. (2)

Parabens are preservatives. They are the most widely used preservative in cosmetics. They are also used as fragrance ingredients, but consumers won’t find that listed on the label. An estimated 75 to 90% of cosmetics contain parabens (typically at very low levels). It has been estimated that women are exposed to 50 mg of parabens per day from cosmetics.(3)

Fragrance (or Parfum) is not a single ingredient but acts as a blanket term for some combination of up to 3000 different ingredients. Fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets, so manufacturers are not required to disclose fragrance chemicals in the list of ingredients. The European Union has recognized Fragrance as the #2 most common cause of allergies in dermatology.(4)

What is the risk?

These ingredients are known to be endocrine disruptors, meaning when they are absorbed into the body they mimic estrogen and can affect hormone function.

This is particularly dangerous in early stages of development (pregnancy, infancy, puberty).(4) Endocrine disruptors are harmful to the marine environment; as they have been linked to the feminization of fish and amphibians. (5)

Please note this is a very daunting subject matter. We have chosen to focus on three common toxic contaminants in the commercial skin care industry and highlight hormone disruption as a side effect. If you are interested in this rabbit hole, please start with the additional resources we have included at the bottom of this article.

Toxic contaminants are allowed in cosmetics and skincare in very low concentrations. 

To test an ingredient for toxicity, the lab measures the lowest concentration a body can ingest before showing symptoms of toxicity. Once the lowest concentration to BMI (body mass index) is calculated companies must not surpass this limit in any individual product. (6)

For example, our bodies can ingest alcohol to a certain blood concentration before getting alcohol poisoning and having to get medical help. The body has a capacity to regulate the alcohol as long as the rate to which it is entering the body is not beyond a certain number of drinks per hour. This number changes from person to person and body mass. 

The concern is that we are consuming many products, with many ingredients, multiple times per day.

Although a single product has low concentrations of contaminants, we are ingesting much more than just a single product. Additionally, there are kids and babies who have small bodies and by comparison they are ingesting much larger concentration than their adult counter parts. 

Bioaccumulation is when our body is ingesting toxic contaminants at a faster rate than which it can process and excrete it.

If we are ingesting toxic substances faster than we can excrete them we may see signs of toxicity. Symptoms are brain fog, skin irritations, headaches, migraines, asthma, inability to lose weight, depression, anxiety, and much more. (7)

 

Your body is an incredible detoxifying machine. It can process and eliminate all of the toxins it is exposed to... given the opportunity. 

It would be great if we could try to educate ourselves on the various avenues to which we ingest toxic contaminants through our skin, diet, and air quality and try to shop for products that are less toxic. 

peoples legs on a mountain sitting barefoot. title: your body is built to eliminate toxins. Reduce the input of toxic substances and it will work hard to keep you healthy.

 

Here is an infographic that makes shopping for less toxic substances easier. 

infographic on how to choose non toxic products

 

 

mall setting. titles: the fewer products we choose with parabens, phthalates and fragrances, the lower concentration we consume.

 

At Miiko Skin Co we have gone to great lengths to make sure our products are 100% toxin free.

The reason we choose edible ingredients as often as possible is because organic standards and manufacturing processes are better in the food industry. Choosing olive oil, coconut oil, honey and apple cider vinegar as the foundation of our product line ensures the safety of the product. 

We chose raw and unrefined ingredients to preserve the true benefits of the product and avoid any contaminants. Many natural skincare products buy deodorized and refined Shea butter and Cocoa butter because they are white and without scent, but this involved a chemical washing and bleaching process we do not want to risk. The reason our More! Body Butter and Safe Summer Skin Cream smell like chocolate is because of the natural aroma of the Cocoa butter. 

We chose glass packaging because we were worried about the soft plastic leeching into the products (and therefore into your skin). Also we did not choose aluminum because our supplier could not prove it was BPA free. 

Our goal is to lead the way through transparency in our ingredient lists, suppliers, and formulations. 

blue bottles, natural skincare, humming bird logo. Title: miiko skin co is committed to transparency and toxin free skincare


Want to learn more?

Here is a list of Resources we have used over and over again for almost a decade.

Online Resources:

Books:

Documentaries:

Resources cited:

  1. Canadian Health Measures Survey
  2. Phthalates Factsheet - CDC
  3. Suzuki Foundation - Dibutyl Phthalate
  4. The Dirty Dozen: Parabens - David Suzuki Foundation
  5. The Dirty Dozen: Parfum aka Fragrance - David Suzuki Foundation
  6. Environmental Working Group: Endocrine Disruptors
  7. Contaminant-induced feminization and demasculinization of nonmammalian vertebrate males in aquatic environments.

  8. Clean - Dr. Alejandro Junger MD