The best resolution you can make this year is to lead a healthier life. One way to do that is to detox your makeup bag. Petrochemicals, parabens and phthalates are just some of the undesirable ingredients lurking in your cosmetics that can cause irritations, allergies, and, potentially, more serious long term health issues.
Although they're present in tiny amounts that are unlikely to harm you, why would you choose to use them when there are better and safer options out there? But, replacing your favorite shade of lipstick or that creamy kohl eyeliner with a natural, purer alternative can be challenging. There simply aren't many makeup products on the market that can deliver the same high quality, luxurious finish, silky texture and outstanding pigmentation as those from the most coveted, traditional brands.
To help you make the switch to safer, healthier options without compromising on quality, we've tracked down the worst common offenders in everyday makeup essentials and sunscreens you should watch out for:
TOSS & REPLACE #1: Sunscreens
Sunscreen is the most important beauty product in your arsenal. It protects your skin from the harmful UV rays that lead to wrinkles, dark spots, and cancer. When properly formulated, it helps you age more gracefully, slowly, and healthily.
Unfortunately, too many sunscreens are formulated with potentially dangerous and allergy causing UV filters. Widely used ingredients oxybenzone and avobenzone¹ both protect the skin by turning UV rays into a less damaging form of heat. However, oxybenzones, which is known to act like estrogen and has relatively high rates of skin allergy, is easily absorbed by the body. For this reason, experts recommend women who are nursing, pregnant, or trying to conceive to avoid them. Avobenzone is limited in skin penetration but has also high rates of skin allergy.
A much safer option to these chemical filters is zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. It safely stays on top of the skin and forms a protective shield that reflects UV rays away from skin. Gentle on skin, zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide provides broad spectrum protection without causing irritations.² We have chosen Titanium Dioxide for our SunPrep SPF15 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen.
Zinc Oxide can be tricky, producing a glow like finish in an aqueous and oil emulsion. We experimented with both and found greater success with using micronized, non-nano particle Titanium Dioxide as the ultimate makeup primer that just so happens to protect your delicate skin from burning. When in direct sunlight any sunscreen product should be reapplied every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Makeup applied on top of the Sunscreen increases the sun protection. Never rely on makeup alone for sunscreen.
TOSS & REPLACE #2: Foundations & Concealers
When formulating their products, a lot of brands choose the cheaper option, even when it is known to cause problems for the skin. Its low price tag is, once again, the reason why bismuth oxychloride is found in a plethora of foundations and concealers. This heavy mineral rarely found in nature is expensive to mine but very economical to make in a lab.
Bismuth oxychloride serves two functions in color cosmetics: it gives them a smooth texture and helps them adhere better to the skin. But it is also very irritating. It has been widely reported to cause irritations, allergies, itchiness and redness.
This is why you won't found bismuth oxychloride in any of our products. Instead, our foundations, concealers and powder makeup are formulated with the finest natural oils and waxes that provide a gentle, luxurious finish without the irritation.
TOSS & REPLACE #3: Lipsticks & Lip glosses
Anything that's applied on the mouth can be ingested so lipsticks and lip glosses should be formulated using only the safest, gentlest and purest ingredients. Unfortunately, traditional lip products are anything but pure.
Too often, they owe their bright shades (some that are incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to create using only natural ingredients) to FD&C dyes, which are artificial colorants that can cause irritation and swelling. More worryingly, science hasn't figured out yet what effects they have when ingested over a lifetime of use.
Carmine is another commonly used red dye obtained from crushed cochineal insects. We believe there's nothing beautiful in killing animals, including insects, for beauty. Crushed insects are not exactly appetizing either.
Another group of ingredients that finds its way too often into lip products is Phthalates. Often listed as DBP and DEP, they are used as carriers for fragrance ingredients. Research has linked exposure to Phthalates to allergies, eczema and even hormonal alterations.³ Unbelievably, the FDA allows fragrances to be classified as “trade secrets” so Phthalates are rarely mentioned on the label. Hiding under the general term “fragrance,” they're tricky to avoid by even the savviest of consumers.
Finally, lip products and cosmetics in general are often loaded with petrochemicals and silicones. Cheap and accessible, they allow lipsticks and lip glosses to glide smoothly onto lips and soften them.
There’s a catch! They do so by creating an occlusive barrier that can trap dirt, comedogenic ingredients and other undesirable substances underneath. This can lead to breakouts around the lips and irritations.
Thankfully, none of these ingredients are necessary to formulate luxuriously creamy, very hydrating and long lasting lip products. Nourishing natural oils such as castor, coconut, and shea butter are wonderful alternatives that provide a lush texture and intense moisturization to keep lips kiss-ably soft.
Pssst…our ARIA PURE Lipstick collection and LIBRE Luxurious Lip Glosses are proof of that and more! They can be used even on the most sensitive of lips without the risk of breakouts and irritations. Hilary Duff is a big fan!
TOSS & REPLACE #4: Eyeliners
Just like lips, the eyes are extremely delicate and should be treated with the utmost care. Yet again, profit often trumps safety. Too many brands formulate their eyeliners with petrochemicals like mineral oil and petroleum; the cheapest way to achieve a creamy, smooth texture and exceptional staying power. The same results can be achieved with the use of slightly more expensive, but much safer, natural oils.
Eyeliners can also be contaminated with heavy metals. Often, these are contaminants present in trace amounts in the minerals and dyes used to give eyeliners their color and pigmentation. More rarely, they're added on purpose. Aluminum, for example, can find its way in your eyeliner through the use of synthetic additives that prevent smudging.
While harder to achieve in a pencil format, it is possible to formulate an eyeliner that is free of these ingredients while retaining the creamy texture and intense color payoff that we expect from a luxury beauty collection. (Try our FORTE Eyeliner Pencil!)
TOSS & REPLACE #5: Mascaras
Preservatives are essential in cosmetics. They help mascaras and other beauty products last longer while protecting them from bacterial and fungal contamination. They're there to keep us safe, but the wrong preservative systems can possibly put us in danger.
Parabens, for example, can mimic estrogens4, which has been questioned to have potentially harmful effects on our reproductive system5. For more information on parabens, please see our post on the ingredient: Why Paraben Free Cosmetics are Better
Although researchers haven't yet found a direct link between parabens and breast cancer, we've decided to keep them out of our cosmetics. Instead, we use various natural preservative systems, some formulated with naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial oils and extracts of botanicals which can be just as powerful but much more reassuring! The natural preservative chosen depends on what works most effectively with the individual cosmetic.
Now that you know which undesirable ingredients to look out for, you are well-prepped to take a good hard look through your makeup bag and give it a new year detox. Here's to safer cosmetics and healthier skin!
1. Systemic absorpion of sunscreen after topical application by Hayden, Roberts, and Benson. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9310609
2. Update on sunscreens by Bissonnette http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/582990
3. Effects of dibutyl phthalate as an environmental endocrine disruptor on gonadal sex differentiation of genetic males of the frog Rana rugosa by Ohtani, Miura, Ichikawa. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1240201/
4. Some alkyl hydroxy benzoate preservatives (parabens) are estrogenic by Routledge, Parker, Odum, Ashby, Sumpter. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9875295
5. Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours by Darbre, Aljarrah, Miller, Coldham, Sauer, Pope http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14745841