Check your labels, check your labels, check your labels—we can't stress it enough. It's time we became equally as invested (and educated) in the cryptic patois of skincare and beauty labels as we are in food labels. We understand the 140-character chemical names can be hard to wade through, let alone commit to memory, so we've given you a starting point for your research.
Below we've outlined five different ingredients commonly found in moisturizers that you should avoid at all costs. Here at B22 Health, we have a laundry list of banned ingredients that will never touch our formulas—from chemicals to mineral oil to petroleum to countless natural ingredients (remember: natural does not necessarily mean better). But these are the five very worst that top our list. If you spot them in a product, politely say thank u, next.
You can attribute that buttery smooth, silky consistency of so many moisturizers to the silicone family. These seemingly miraculous ingredients have become ubiquitous in the skincare world for summoning that sought-after velvety texture. But while their effects may look and feel good on your skin—be warned, the short-term results are not worth the long-term damage. At B22 Health, we refuse to use silicones in any of our formulas. Silicone works by creating a thick seal over your skin, which companies might flaunt as "locking in moisture." What they won't tell you is everything else that gets locked in under the seal—dirt, bacteria, sweat, and dead skin cells begging to get out. Inevitably, this leads to acne, breakouts, dullness, and, ironically, dehydrated skin. When the skin is unable to shed its dead cells, it's invariably unable to naturally hydrate itself by trapping in moisture from the environment. While dimethicone is the most frequently used silicone, try avoiding any ingredients with these suffixes: cones, conols, silanes, siloxanes.
The National Toxicology Program claimed that phthalates have been "anticipated to be a human carcinogen." As far as we're concerned, that sentence might as well read "definitely are a human carcinogen." When it comes to carcinogens, it's just not worth the risk, especially when the ingredient's purpose can be easily fulfilled by natural substitutes like those we use in B22 Health Night Gel (we talk about our ingredients at around the half-way point on that page). And while the long-term effects of phthalate exposure are still being researched, studies have already identified these chemicals as endocrine disrupters and have linked them to breast cancer and reproductive birth defects. That's enough evidence to nix any and all products that include this dispensable ingredient.
By now you know to stay away from the harmful preservatives called parabens (we hope), even though you may not know totally why. If not, here's a quick refresher: similar to phthalates, parabens have been known to disrupt hormones and have been found in samples of cancerous breast tissue. They can be hard to spot on labels, so be sure to steer clear of any ingredient that begins with the prefix ethyl, butyl, methyl, or propyl.
4. Synthetic Fragrance
Ah, the ever deceptive "fragrance" tag, where toxic ingredients run wild, free, and undetected. In order to protect the trade secrets of the fragrance industry, companies are not required to explicitly state what chemicals make up their fragrances. This has created a dangerous loophole for companies to pack their products with potentially harmful (and often times, completely untested) ingredients. Bypass the risk and opt for fragrance-free products or those that use non-comedogenic essential oils/natural extracts for scent.
5. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
Despite their widespread use in personal care and cleaning products as foaming agents, these two chemicals have been found to cause serious skin, lung, and eye irritation. What's worse, both SLS and SLES undermine the skin's natural protective barrier by increasing the skin's permeability, thus jeopardizing your skin's ability to defend itself against harmful chemicals and toxins. To top it all off, SLS's have the potential to form carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines when combined with other chemicals. Blacklist these two for good.