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Shop healthy. Avoid diseases.

Bernard-Henri Louvat
CEO & Founder of Tera. I am a serial technology entrepreneur and I occasionally write articles for our blog. Drop me a line at blouvat@hellotera.com if you feel like it!

How to Live a Non-Toxic Lifestyle: Skincare

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Make sure to protect it by buying from conscious brands who care

This article is the third in a multi-part guide to living a non-toxic lifestyle and how the Tera app can help. Click here to start at the beginning.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it requires proper care. Choosing safe and healthy skincare products is essential to safeguard it from environmental damage, prevent premature aging, and enhance its overall condition.

Given the wide range of skincare products on the market, distinguishing between safe and unsafe options can be challenging. This guide is designed to help you understand why opting for safe skincare products is crucial and how to make informed choices that suit your skin’s specific needs. The importance of selecting safe skincare products cannot be overstated, as many skincare items contain harmful chemicals that can lead to skin irritation, allergies, or even more severe health concerns like cancer and endocrine disruption.

When making decisions about skincare products, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough label inspection to make sure you’re avoiding harmful chemicals. Instead of gravitating toward the ubiquitous brands promoted on TV and stocked in large retail chains, consider purchasing from companies genuinely committed to sourcing clean, safe, natural, and eco-friendly ingredients that you can readily identify. While these products may come with a higher price tag, your investment goes a long way in safeguarding your health and supporting small businesses. For further insights, consider exploring Darin Olien’s insightful book, “Fatal Conveniences,” which played a key role in shaping the content of this article.

In this next edition of our non-toxic lifestyle series, we’ll discuss some of the dangerous ingredients to avoid in common skincare products, how these ingredients can impact our health, and recommend five brands to boycott and five brands to support. Please note the brand lists are in no particular order.

Moisturizer

Top 5 Ingredients to Avoid

Parabens: Parabens are preservatives that have been linked to health problems such as cancer and hormone disruption. A 2011 study published in the journal “Clinical Cancer Research” found that parabens can increase the risk of breast cancer in women.

Phthalates: Phthalates are chemicals that are used to soften plastics. They have been linked to health problems such as reproductive problems and hormone disruption. A 2007 study published in the journal “Environmental Health Perspectives” found that phthalates can disrupt the development of male reproductive organs in rats.

Retinyl Palmitate: Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A that is often used in moisturizers. However, it has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer when exposed to sunlight. Sun exposure may also break down vitamin A to produce toxic free radicals that damage DNA. A 2013 study published in the journal “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” found that retinyl palmitate can cause premature aging of the skin.

Petroleum Jelly: Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of petroleum refining. It is often used in moisturizers because it is occlusive, which means that it prevents water from evaporating from the skin. However, petroleum jelly can clog pores and lead to acne. The process of refining petroleum into petrolatum can lead to its contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are classified as carcinogens.

Fragrance: Fragrance is a catch-all term for a mixture of chemicals that gives a product its smell. Many fragrances contain harmful chemicals that can irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions.

Other ingredients to avoid:

  • Talc
  • Lactic acid
  • Formaldehyde
  • Polyacrylamide

Top 5 Brands to Boycott

  1. Cetaphil
  2. Olay
  3. L’Oreal
  4. CeraVe
  5. Neutrogena

Top 5 Brands to Support

  1. Aleavia
  2. Mad Hippie
  3. Cocokind
  4. Primally Pure
  5. Waxelene

Some great natural options include coconut oil, shea butter, and beef tallow.

Body Wash & Soap

Top 5 Ingredients to Avoid

SLS and SLES: Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are harsh detergents that can strip away the natural oils from your skin, leaving it dry and irritated. They can also be irritating to the eyes and lungs. A 2014 study published in the journal “Skin Pharmacology and Physiology” found that SLS can damage the skin barrier function.

Triclosan: Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that has been linked to the development of antibiotic resistance. It can also be irritating to the skin. A 2008 study published in the journal “Environmental Health Perspectives” found that triclosan can disrupt the development of the immune system in mice.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA): DEA & TEA are both foaming agents that can be irritating to the skin and eyes. They can also be harmful to the liver and kidneys. A 2000 study published in the journal “Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology” found that DEA and TEA can damage DNA.

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI): MIT and MCI are preservatives that are often used in personal care products. They can be irritating to the skin and eyes and can also cause allergic reactions.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG): PEG is a type of surfactant that is often used in personal care products. It can be irritating to the skin and eyes and can also disrupt the skin’s barrier function. A 2013 study published in the journal “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” found that PEG can increase the risk of allergic reactions.

Other ingredients to avoid:

  • Coal tar
  • Parabens
  • Fragrance
  • Phthalates
  • Formaldehyde
  • Propylene glycol

Top 5 Brands to Boycott

  1. Suave
  2. Dove
  3. Aveeno
  4. Dial
  5. Olay

Top 5 Brands to Support

  1. Aleavia
  2. Dr. Bronner’s
  3. Essential Oils (EO)
  4. The Earthling Co.
  5. Waste Free Products by Tangie

Sunscreen

Top 5 Ingredients to Avoid

Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone is a synthetic organic compound that absorbs UVB rays. Oxybenzone has been linked to a number of health problems, including allergic reactions, hormone disruption, and coral reef damage. One study found that high levels of oxybenzone found in the blood of adolescent boys resulted in significantly lower testosterone levels.

Octinoxate: Octinoxate is another synthetic organic compound that absorbs UVB rays. Octinoxate has been linked to similar health problems as oxybenzone, including allergic reactions and hormone disruption. A 2010 study published in the journal “Environmental Science & Technology” found that octinoxate can kill beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Octabenzone: Octabenzone is a synthetic organic compound that absorbs UVA rays. It is less common than oxybenzone and octinoxate, but it is still used in some sunscreens. Octabenzone has been linked to allergic reactions and coral reef damage.

Homosalate: Homosalate is a chemical UV filter that can disrupt hormones, although it is generally considered less potent in this regard compared to oxybenzone and octinoxate. A 2008 study published in the journal “Contact Dermatitis” found that homosalate can cause allergic reactions in up to 10% of people.

Retinyl Palmitate: Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A that is often used in sunscreens. It is thought to help protect the skin from UV damage. However, retinyl palmitate has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer when exposed to sunlight.

Other ingredients to avoid:

  • Any of these sunscreen-specific chemicals: trolamine salicylate, cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, meradimate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, avobenzone
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Fragrance
  • Formaldehyde

Top 5 Brands to Boycott

  1. Coppertone
  2. Banana Boat
  3. Hawaiian Tropic
  4. SunBum
  5. Neutrogena

Top 5 Brands to Support

  1. Badger
  2. Waxhead
  3. Babo Botanicals
  4. Raw Elements
  5. Earth Mama

Deodorant & Antiperspirant

Top 5 Ingredients to Avoid

Aluminum salts: Aluminum salts are the active ingredient in most deodorants and antiperspirants. They work by blocking the sweat glands, which prevents sweat from coming out. However, aluminum salts have been linked to a number of health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, and thyroid problems. A 2012 study published in the journal “Cancer Research” found that aluminum salts can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.

Parabens: Parabens are preservatives that are often used in deodorant and antiperspirant. They have been linked to a number of health problems, including hormone disruption and allergic reactions. A 2004 study published in the journal “Environmental Health Perspectives” found that parabens can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.

Triclosan: Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is often used in deodorant and antiperspirant. It has been linked to a number of health problems, including hormone disruption and allergic reactions.

Propylene glycol: Propylene glycol is a solvent that is often used in deodorant and antiperspirant. It can be irritating to the skin and has been linked to allergic reactions.

Fragrance: Fragrance is a catch-all term for a variety of chemicals that are used to make deodorant and antiperspirant smell good. However, fragrance can be irritating to the skin and has been linked to allergic reactions.

Other ingredients to avoid:

  • Phthalates
  • Benzene
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Talc

Top 5 Brands to Boycott

  1. Old Spice
  2. Gillette
  3. Degree
  4. Secret
  5. Suave

Top 5 Brands to Support

  1. Truvani
  2. Schmidt’s
  3. Native
  4. Primally Pure
  5. Pretty Frank

Anti-Aging Cream

Top 5 Ingredients to Avoid

Retinol: Retinol is a form of vitamin A that is often used in anti-aging creams. It can be effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, but it can also cause skin irritation, dryness, and redness.

Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is a bleaching agent that is used in some anti-aging creams to lighten the appearance of age spots and other hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone can be effective, but it can also cause skin irritation, dryness, and redness. Hydroquinone is also not recommended for use on pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding.

Alpha & Beta hydroxy acids (AHAs & BHAs): AHAs and BHAs are a group of acids that are used in some anti-aging creams to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells. AHAs can be effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, but they can also cause skin irritation, dryness, and redness.

PFAS: PFAs are a group of man-made chemicals that are used in a wide variety of products, including anti-aging creams. PFAs are known to be persistent in the environment and in the human body. They have been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental problems in children.

Mineral Oils and Petrolatum: These ingredients are often used as moisturizing agents in skincare products. While they can be effective in trapping moisture in the skin, they may also clog pores and lead to breakouts, particularly for individuals with oily or acne-prone skin.

Other ingredients to avoid:

  • Placental extracts
  • UV filters (octinoxate, oxybenzone, homosalate, etc.)
  • Fragrance
  • Parabens
  • 1,4-dioxane
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG)

Top 5 Brands to Boycott

  1. Olay
  2. Pond’s
  3. Lancôme
  4. L’Oreal
  5. Fresh

Top 5 Brands to Support

  1. By Achilles
  2. Vermont Skincare Company
  3. Toups & Co Organics
  4. Oak Essentials
  5. Eco Roots

While your body will certainly appreciate switching to a safe and clean brand, the best remedy to aging is a healthy lifestyle — organic whole foods, filtered water, quality sleep, daily movement, positive social connections, choosing non-toxic products, spending time in nature, and so much more.

5 Ways the Tera App Can Help

  1. Shop your favorite beauty store with your personal Tera filter: Select Amazon, or Sephora, or Alta, or Credo Beauty or The Detox Market, and quickly find the products that best meet your health preferences.
  2. Ingredient Assessment: Utilizing the Tera app, individuals can either search for or scan the barcodes of their personal care items to scrutinize the ingredients. It actively identifies and signals the presence of harmful chemicals, toxins, or potentially unsafe substances within the product.
  3. Product Evaluation: Tera employs a rating system to assess products based on their impact on health and the environment. This system enables users to promptly gauge the overall safety of a product. Products that receive high ratings signify a lower probability of containing harmful components.
  4. Suggested Safer Options: Tera goes beyond just flagging problematic ingredients; it also offers recommendations for safer alternatives. It suggests products from ethical brands that prioritize the use of non-toxic and environmentally friendly ingredients. This feature aids users in effortlessly discovering products that align with their preference for safer choices.
  5. Personalized Profiles: Within the app, users have the ability to create individualized profiles. By inputting their specific health concerns, allergies, and environmental preferences, the app tailors its suggestions to match each user’s distinct health requirements and values.

App Screenshots

                                    

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