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8 Toxic Ingredients to Watch Out for in Your Beauty Products

Have you ever purchased a product without reading the ingredients? Maybe you were mesmerized by the beautiful packaging, a couple of keywords on the front matched your needs like “volumizing” or “extra hold,” or you’ve heard great things about the brand.

So no need to look at the back of the package, right?

Not so fast. For the sake of your overall health (and your wallet), you should always read the ingredients before purchasing any item. You want to make sure you’re not only getting what’s being advertised to you, but also that you’re not missing any sneaky, harmful ingredients.

Just because it says “natural” or “vegan” doesn’t actually make it natural and clean.

The American cosmetics industry is worth a whopping $70 billion every year. However, the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors only has an annual budget of $8 million and 27 staff members. It gets worse– The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was the last set of laws passed to govern cosmetics, and this passed in 1938. Many years later, we have millions of beauty brands using a wide variety of ingredients and formulating techniques that need to be regulated.

The EU bans 1328 chemicals, Canada bans 600, but the U.S. bans only 30. Whether it’s for your long-term health, immediate skin irritation, ethics, or bioaccumulation, we should all be taking a closer look at the ingredients in our favorite products and every future purchase. If you see any of the ingredients listed below in your collection of skincare and cosmetics, it may be time to apply the KonMari method to your skincare and cosmetics routine.

1. Preservatives & Stabilizing Agents: Parabens, BHA, BHT

Parabens are a commonly-used preservative found in personal care products and cosmetics. When first transitioning to non-toxic beauty, look for parabens as they are the easiest to scope out.

They are found in the majority of cosmetics, although sometimes unmarked as part of the fragrances. (Did you know that fragrances don’t have to be disclosed to the public as they are considered a trade secret?) Parabens can easily penetrate your skin, even if your product doesn’t have skin absorption enhancers, bypass the metabolic process, and can enter both the bloodstream and organs without being broken down.

The scary fact is that parabens mimic estrogen, which can potentially interfere with hormone production in both men and women. Parabens have been linked to breast cancer, because they have been detected in the breast tissue of many breast cancer patients. Last but not least, parabens are not environmentally-friendly, as they are resistant to biodegradation in both water and oil.

Other preservatives to look out for are BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). Like parabens, they are suspected endocrine disrupters and carcinogens. Even worse, they are carcinogens for fish and other wildlife.

Consumers have to understand that every product used gets washed down the drain in some form — the shower drain, sink drain, or during the recycling process. These two chemicals are both bioaccumulative and dangerous towards aquatic species.

2. Foaming Agents: Sulfates

Sulfates are what make beauty commercials so enticing. Sulfates produce the suds for the shampoo, body wash, and shaving cream close-up shots. Suds are supposed to imply a luxurious and moisturizing product, but instead, sulfates are synthetic, non-renewable ingredients generally derived from petroleum that strip the skin of its natural oils and cause severe skin irritation.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) can remain in the body for up to five days, staying behind in your vital organs, can damage your immune system, and mutate into carcinogens. Another chemical that performs the same function would be DEA (Diethanolamine), which is mainly used as a pH adjuster. This chemical can have effects on the nervous and endocrine system.

3. Plasticizers: Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that help dissolve other chemicals and make plastic more flexible. They can be found in everything from vinyl flooring to shampoo, often hidden in the fragrance. Phthalates are bioaccumulative and are endocrine disrupters to both humans and aquatic animals.

4. Antibacterials: Triclosan

Undoubtedly, not all antibacterials are bad. But triclosan is a synthetic antibacterial that functions as a pesticide. It is a commonly-found chemical in many types of drugstore toothpaste and household cleaners. Unfortunately, this chemical is a hormone disruptor and can decrease fertility, produce birth defects, or alter DNA. This chemical, too, is bioaccumulative and also harmful to aquatic animals.

5. Formaldehyde Releasers: DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, and others.

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are used in many personal care products, particularly liquid baby soaps, hair smoothing products, nail polish, and color cosmetics. When formaldehyde is present in a product, consumers can be exposed by ingestion or absorption, which can cause irritation at best and cancer at worst.

6. Chemical Sunscreens: Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Octinoxate.

sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens, like zinc oxide, will sit on your skin to reflect the light to prevent damage. Chemical sunscreens will penetrate your skin, absorb the UV rays, and convert them into heat that is then released through the skin.

But unlike the mineral sunscreens, chemical sunscreens can stay in the body for up to five days. Additionally, many chemical sunscreens are not considered “reef safe” and are already banned, or will soon be banned, around the world for damaging our reefs. When it’s washed off your body in the water, it stays and actually damages some of the Earth’s most precious ecosystems.

7. Light and Heavy Metals: Aluminum and Lead

Aluminum, a light metal, can be found in many drugstore deodorants, with its main function as an antiperspirant. The deodorants will have aluminum salts that help plug the pores physically preventing you from sweating. Not only has this been linked to increasing your chances of breast cancer, but it’s blocking your natural production of sweat.

On the other hand, heavy metals are less obvious to spot, as they are often not added purposely, but are contaminants. Such is the case for the infamous Claire’s asbestos scandal when a mother found asbestos in a variety of her young girl’s makeup palettes.

8. Water Retainers: Mineral Oils & Petrolatum

Petrolatum and mineral oils, a liquid mixture derived from petrolatum, are used in many personal care products to retain moisture. This is why you will often see it as the main ingredient for lotions, cleansers, lip balms, and even powders. The big problem is that as they keep water in, they also clog the pores and prevent your skin from breathing.

Used regularly, this will age your skin prematurely, and as it’s a carcinogen and endocrine disrupter, they can lead to cancer in humans and breathing problems in animals. You should also keep a lookout for 1,4-Dioxane, a common byproduct of processing petroleum-based products produced while trying to make the petrolatum less irritating to the skin. 1,4-Dioxane is resistant to biodegradation in water and soil as well as being potentially explosive when exposed to light or air–definitely not something we want in our cosmetics.

How to Transition to Non-Toxic Cosmetics

If you are serious about switching to using only clean skincare and cosmetics, for the good of your skin and the planet, you are going to have to perform a thorough inspection of all your products and toss out the ones with any of the ingredients listed above. The good news is that there are plenty of non-toxic alternatives to all your favorites.

While it may be tough to get rid of a beloved eyeshadow palette or lip gloss, knowing the ingredients are no longer safe for you to use should be enough for you to let go. As you continue to shop and replace your items one by one, you’ll get familiar with ingredients labels and start to lean on brands you can trust.

If discovering products and brands one-by-one seems daunting or time-consuming, simply look for an EWG-Verified brand or subscribe to Vegancuts.

Vegancuts has transitioned to featuring only cruelty-free, vegan, AND clean beauty items, a.k.a non-toxic skincare, and cosmetics, so the work can be done for you. It’s time for you to take charge of what products you use in your everyday life.

 

Vegan Skincare Guide

Vegan Skincare: Your Guide to Getting Started

The term ‘vegan’ is not exclusive to the food we consume. The increasing interest in veganism has spread far beyond the dietary context; from the clothes we wear and the linens we sleep on, to the household products we use and the cars we drive, has proved that adopting a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to end (or begin) with the food we eat.

Swapping out your regular products for a vegan, cruelty-free beauty routine is another way to make the crossover, and according to Google Trends, more and more consumers are taking notice. Searches for the vegan skincare category have grown by 83% year over year since 2010, and for good reason.

We’ve seen the drastic benefits of a vegan diet, so why wouldn’t the same logic apply to skincare or any other vegan lifestyle change?

Fortunately for you, the environment, and animals around the world, it does. Trading your normal skincare, makeup, and beauty routine for one that is vegan and cruelty-free has an abundance of incredible benefits.                                                                                                               

What defines vegan skincare?

Firstly, let’s define what vegan skincare actually means. They are products that are created without any use of ingredients from animals, animal-derived products or animal by-products. These by-products are the parts of the animal that are not directly consumed by humans. Beeswax, lanolin, collagen, carmine, cholesterol, and gelatin are some of the most commonly used animal by-products by the world’s leading beauty and cosmetic brands, and they are found in an extensive range of items produced by these brands.

Is there a difference between vegan and cruelty-free?

Vegan vs Cruelty Free

It’s also important to note that the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty-free’ are not synonyms, though the confusion is understandable. As stated above, ‘vegan’ refers to products without any animal-derived ingredients, but it does not specify on the production process. Technically, items tested on animals can claim to be vegan. By the same token, ‘cruelty-free’ means that the final product has not been tested on animals in the process, but can contain some of those pesky animal-derived or animal by-products mentioned above.

Both are champions for animal rights and will hopefully be interchangeable in the near future.

Is there a trick to reading the labels?

vegan labels

You’ve probably noticed more than a dozen different logos and seals on your products, all making similar claims about being suitable for a certain lifestyle. It is just as critical to familiarize yourself with labels as it is with ingredients. Here are the labels to look out for and what they mean:leaping bunny

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) is an organization made up of eight national animal protection groups which banded together to make shopping for cruelty-free products easier and more trustworthy through their internationally recognized Leaping Bunny program. Their leaping bunny logo certifies the product is 100% cruelty-free after meeting their uncompromising criteria.vegan society

The Vegan Society is a U.K. based organization dedicated to the worldwide recognition of veganism. Their seal certifies that the product is 100% free from animal products.

certified vegan

The Certified Vegan logo is a registered trademark (think the Kosher trademark) for products that do not contain animal products or by-products and have not been tested on animals. AKA Vegan and cruelty-free.

An extra benefit from going vegan and cruelty-free with your beauty routine is you are one step closer to avoiding ingredients that are toxic, unclean and unsafe. Once you make the switch to vegan and cruelty-free products, by reading labels closely you begin to learn more about the ingredients. One helpful tip from the Beauty Box Curator, “I always crosscheck all ingredients on every product I use as well as Vegancuts features on EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. This helpful site explains less commonly known ingredients as well as lists toxicity levels.”

Now let’s get to the benefits:

It’s a big step for humanity.

cruelty free

Much like a vegan diet, cruelty-free skincare routine is kinder to animals, as it rids the need to use animals or their body parts in any capacity. Fortunately, animal rights have been on the rise in recent years. This put major cosmetic brands under harsh scrutiny for their ingredients and testing processes, and in turn, resulted in a dramatic spike in vegan and cruelty-free options for consumers.

Today’s market makes it easier than ever for consumers to find their favorite, ‘holy grail’ cosmetic item among a vast array of vegan and cruelty-free beauty brands. By consciously buying these products, we are actively lowering the demand for products being produced by animal testing.

You’re helping the environment, too!

Using animal by-products for ingredients affects not only the animals but also our earth’s precious resources. Feeding the farmed animals substantial amounts of grain and water and subsequently killing them, processing, transporting and storing their bodies is harshly energy-intensive. It also releases a significantly higher amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, into the environment.

Plant-based products are a more efficient use of our resources, as they need less energy from fossil fuels, less land, and less water. By removing animal products from our skincare and beauty routines and products, we can play our part in dramatically reducing humanity’s detrimental impact on the environment.

Many vegan brands are also very conscious of packaging. Products that would typically clog our landfills are now being recycled to create packaging. Brands like Pacifica Beauty, commonly featured in Vegancuts boxes, even boast their own recycling program.

In a world where ecosystems we depend on are being challenged by pollution and waste, every bit of conscious action counts— for us and generations to come.

Nourishing, natural ingredients greatly improve skin quality.

skincare

The fewer products you put on your skin, the better. More dermatologists than ever are recommending we stay away from too many ingredients for a variety of reasons. Vegan products are known for having cleaner ingredient lists than non-vegan products.

Vegan brands tend to use high-quality herbs, roots, essential oils, and other high-quality natural ingredients with moisturizing and anti-aging qualities. In fact, plants have been used to treat many skin conditions for centuries. These tried and true ingredients have proven their efficacy in humans long before even our basic face wash. The benefits from mineral-rich clay, for example, range from smoothing to clarifying your skin. Chamomile soothes rashes and other irritations. Jojoba treats acne. The olive leaf is used for hydration, and rose hip for regeneration.

This means you’re packing in tons of extra benefits— without even trying! Depending on what your skin concern is, your vegan beauty products may be preventing and reducing fine lines and wrinkles, eradicating eye bags or dark eye circles or even reducing acne and the scarring that came with it.  

Vegan skincare is suitable for all skin types— even the most sensitive.

Many of the harsh chemicals found in non-vegan products, such as synthetic fragrance, parabens, petroleum, and synthetic colorants, cause minor and major skin irritations. Even worse, these chemicals are often used as fillers, meaning they have no substance or purpose, irritating your skin and harming the environment for no reason. 

Vegan skincare provides long-term support.

face cream

Though you may see quick, even instant, results from chemically-formulated skincare products, you could be causing irreversible damage down the road. The debate is out as to how much your skin actually absorbs into your system, but there’s no question it does. This means that those toxins are, to some degree, being directly absorbed into your system, and we don’t know what those long-term effects are. Vegan skincare products, along with some other non-vegan products, are packed with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants which have proved for centuries to nourish your skin long-term.

What now?

If you haven’t already, swapping out your regular makeup and skincare routine for vegan, clean and cruelty-free products may seem like a daunting task. However, it’s also incredibly exciting, as you’re about to embark on a wonderful journey for your skin and our planet.

All Vegancuts products are vegan, clean and cruelty-free, taking the stress and time from the research phase out for the consumer. Get started with your Vegancuts subscription box today, and feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you have regarding vegan skincare products. We’re more than happy to help. Leave a note in the comments, or contact us via email.

 

Did You Get the Memo? We’ve Got Demos!

Darby-March-BB-Email

We’ve been on the lookout for new ways to show off the contents of our boxes, and we may have found just that! We’ve partnered with our friends at Darby Smart to bring you in depth unboxing and demo videos of a few of our current and upcoming boxes! Darby Smart is an interactive video community where people watch and share snappy how-to videos.

Want to get more in tune with Darby Smart? You can browse and share your own videos using their free app, Darby, and make sure to check out the Vegan Cuts + Darby videos for inspiration!

You can watch the demo video for the latest Beauty Box by clicking the photo above, and watch the demo for our newest quarterly Vegan Cuts Makeup Box below. Be sure to stay tuned to take a closer look at a couple other Vegan Cuts boxes soon! 

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