Four Harmful Ingredients and Their Healthier Alternatives

Here are some natural alternatives to harmful ingredients. // Photo Credit: paulynn/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Doing away with potentially harmful ingredients can be a daunting process, but it can be accomplished. “Companies need to review their ingredient decks for chemicals of concern and replace them with safer alternatives,” says the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’s Janet Nudelman. 

“Often, they replace one unsafe chemical with an equally or more toxic alternative,” says Nudelman. “The way to get around that problem is to practice informed substitution, which means manufacturers carefully study the safety of the alternatives they are considering and adopt an overall policy and plan to guide the safety of the entire portfolio of cosmetic chemicals they use.”

Here, Synergie Skin’s Terri Vinson offers up a few of her favorite substitutes. 

INSTEAD OF CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS, TRY ZINC OXIDE 

Zinc oxide, a physical sunscreen, is a naturally occurring mineral and offers broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, whereas most chemical sunscreens often only offer either UVA or UVB protection. Chemical sunscreens such as oxybenzone, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, and octyl methoxycinnamate have been linked to photosensitivity and skin irritation and may possibly influence hormone levels with long-term use. Many chemical sunscreens, due to their low molecular weight, penetrate the skin's surface and have been found in the bloodstream hours after application; zinc oxide, on the other hand, exhibits anti-irritant benefits and does not penetrate the skin surface

INSTEAD OF PHTHALATES, TRY PURE ESSENTIAL OILS

Phthalates are used as fragrance enhancers, solvents, and flexible film former. This ingredient has been linked to hormone disruption, and dibutyl phthalate is banned from use in Europe. 

INSTEAD OF PROPYLENE GLYCOL, TRY GLYCERINE, BETAINE, AND SODIUM PCA 

Propylene glycol is a petroleum-derived solvent, thinner, humectant, and ingredient used to increase penetration of other ingredients that may also be undesirable and has been linked to irritation and long-term accumulation.

INSTEAD OF SYNTHETIC FD&C COLORS, TRY NATURAL IRON OXIDES AND MICAS 

Synthetic colors are derived from petroleum and may contain lead and heavy metal salts. These particles are small enough to absorb into the skin and can result in irritation and cell damage if used for extended periods.

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