There are certain beauty ingredients you’ve probably heard are best to avoid (like parabens and phthalates,) but you may not know why. Some ingredients actually sound positive (like fragrance,) and others are probably new to you (…like what’s a PEG?) Here are our top 5 ingredients you should avoid, and why:
#1: Parabens (EWG rating 4-7)
#2: Phthalates (EWG rating 10)
#3: Fragrance (EWG rating 8)
#4: Polyethylene glycol (EWG rating 3)
#5: Formaldehyde (EWG rating 10)
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization who advocate for environmental health in multiple industries. They are working to help educate beauty consumers with their Skin Deep Database where you can look up products and ingredients to see how they are rated in terms of toxicity. The rating is from safest to most harmful, with 1 being the safest and 10 being the most harmful. Check out how our Biossance products rate.
They also have a new verification you can get called EWGVERIFIED(™) which requires brands to have their formula’s screened for safety and to provide ingredient transparency. All Biossance products are EWG VERIFIED(™).
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why companies sometimes use potentially harmful ingredients.
One of primary reasons comes down to that cold hard cash. These ingredients are often cheap to make or source, thus are a cost efficient way to perform the specific duty needed for the product. For example, silicones provide slip or glide, so your makeup or moisturizer glides on easily. Or fragrances provide a masking or pleasant scent to a product that would otherwise smell rather awful. Or preservatives like parabens to help prevent your product from going bad. Sometimes the alternatives just do not perform as well, or a good alternative just does not exist yet. The cosmetics industry is constantly innovating, but some healthier alternatives have yet to be discovered and/or formulated.
Another key reason is that the health effects of these ingredients were not evaluated when these ingredients first came to market. That is something we just didn’t do in the 1960’s. People smoked indoors and used harmful chemicals all over their houses (hello, lead paint filled walls).The health considerations of ingredients were simply not a factor then because we simply didn’t know what we didn’t know.
Luckily, the beauty industry has changed drastically for the better in the last decade. This game of catch up is primarily being driven by companies updating their own standards, rather than any enforced regulations. Although the new Personal Care Products Safety Act could help us make some progress if it’s passed. Either way, it is now easier to find cleaner products and consumers are becoming more educated. Voting with your wallet does make a difference.
Wondering how to make sure you avoid these ingredients? Download our Clean Beauty Cheat Sheet and save on your phone to reference on your next shopping trip.
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We've teamed up with over a dozen natural skincare and cosmetic brands to form the Counteract Coalition, an alliance of clean beauty brands that support the Personal Care Products Safety Act introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Last month, representatives from each Counteract Coalition brand headed to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers to lobby on behalf of this crucial legislation.