With buzz words like organic, free-range and GMO, adapted grocery shopping techniques are shaping informed consumers. Similar examination may be needed for beauty products.
“The skin absorbs much of what you put on it,” Melissa Russell, production manager at Simply Pure Products in Warrenton, says. “You will notice a huge difference in not only your skin and hair, but how you feel overall when you stop feeding your body toxins.”
Over time, people have begun to question exactly what they are putting into, and in this case onto, their bodies, especially because common ingredients have been linked to the development of cancer and other issues/disorders.
Below are some such ingredients, tips on how to avoid them and where to find healthier alternatives in Northern Virginia.
Petroleum jelly: Most commonly known as Vaseline, petroleum jelly is a derivative of refined oil. Due to its close contact with crude oil’s dangerous chemicals, this ingredient has been linked to cancers and respiratory problems. While some companies (including Vaseline) refine and purify their petroleum jelly, other companies may not. As a nonrenewable resource, the use of petroleum jelly negatively impacts the environment.
Cetyl alcohol: Commonly found in hair products and moisturizers, Cetyl alcohol is known as a fatty alcohol and is (though the name may indicate otherwise) good for your skin and hair. However, Cetyl alcohol can be derived from plants or petroleum. Opt for plant derived ingredients by researching the source of the product or looking for products that list coconut oil instead.
Heavy metals and lead: In recent years, the FDA has tested numerous cosmetics for heavy metals and lead, which can be toxic. While present in many national and high-end brands, the FDA does not think that minimal amount can pose a health risk. One study found that eyeshadow, blush and powders contained higher amounts of heavy metals than other cosmetics.
Parabens: Used in products to stop the growth of bacteria and fungus, this ingredient was banned from personal care products in the European Union in 2012. The FDA has stated that small amounts of parabens in cosmetics are safe, though if you want to avoid them, be on the lookout for the prefix isopropyl-, isobutyl-, pentyl-, phenyl- and benzyl- to know if parabens are in your products.
Sulfates: This chemical has been found to irritate skin and dry out hair, but is used to create the sudsy, lathering ability of shampoo and soaps.
Phthalates: The most common phthalates are DEP, DNBP and DIBP found in scented products, nail polish and cosmetics. These harsh chemicals are more associated with health problems in babies and men. Some companies including Revlon, Johnson & Johnson and L’Oréal have removed or are in the process of removing these ingredients from their products.
Where to find alternative products
When purchasing natural products, Russell warns “you may find natural products are priced higher than drug store products. The ingredients that go into these products are derived from natural origins all over the planet. One anti-aging extract we use in our Lip and Eye Crème comes from the edelweiss plant grown at high altitudes in the Swiss Alps- without pesticides or chemicals. Instead of being mass produced in a lab or grown on conventional farms, many natural ingredients [might cost more due to the way they are grown].”
Simply Pure Products
7130 Lineweaver Road, Warrenton
Features: Natural, homemade products for body, hair, makeup and baby
17 South King Street, Leesburg
Features: European and homemade products
2931 Eskridge Road, Fairfax
Features: Soaps with eco-friendly packaging and certified organic ingredients
Olive Oil Soap Company
Features: Soaps using all natural ingredients, local herbs, milk and flowers