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Chemicals Commonly Found in Beauty Products that Disrupt our Hormones

If you have been following me for a while you may already know I am extremely passionate about Holistic Health and so, it was only a matter of time before I wrote a blog addressing the impact toxic chemicals in our beauty and skin care products have on our health. Like most people, you have probably heard the term “clean beauty,” you may also feel slightly confused, "What does clean beauty actually mean?"

Answer: This term should be used to classify non-toxic beauty products. It helps us as consumers classify cosmetics, hair and skincare products that are free from harmful chemicals. This includes ingredients you have probably already heard of like: petroleum, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances. PEOPLE, we need to become more aware of the dangers of using these ingredients. Some of the current health challenges toxic ingredients have been linked to include: Digestive disorders (leaky gut), Skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis), cancer and endocrine disruption (The current STAT on Unexplained infertility is currently sitting at 1 in 4 couples and PCOS, PMS, PMDD, Fibroids, Endometriosis and other disorders of the female reproductive system are rising every single day).

What is clean beauty and why does it matter?

The clean beauty movement is a response passionate individuals are taking to develop products for the beauty industry addressing growing concerns about the safety of our cosmetics and skin care products. It’s about providing transparency and education to consumers about the ingredients in their products. It’s also about demanding that manufacturers use safer ingredients in their products. The movement is also calling for manufacturers to pay attention to where and how they source their ingredients, in order to hold them accountable to consumers. Manufacturers should disclose what they use in their product formulations.

For me as a practitioner, a consumer and a woman, joining the movement is about supporting brands that are committed to ensuring we are safe when using everyday products. I also want to support companies that not only clean up their ingredients and care about our health as humans but also care about protecting and saving the environment.

The truth is, what you wash down the sink, throw out in your trash and choose not to recycle impacts the earth and ocean... we cannot exist without the earth or the ocean and the creatures that inhabit them. You need to give a crap about that! If we don't start changing our ways, our children will not have a world to live or have their own children in... No joke, by 2050 if we have not made massive shifts in how we treat the planet, the planet is going to make it impossible for us to live on it. The time is NOW! We all need to do our part. We need to use our hard earned $, supporting brands that work to address the underlying cause of so many of our current health challenges and environmental issues. Some of the causes to consider: Reduction of toxic ingredient usage, Green washing vs. clean beauty, fair trade and sourcing of ingredients, recycling programs (bottle return) and reducing packaging costs.

For starters let’s consider how many things our skin does, (protects our vital organ tissues from the harsh elements of our external environment. It absorbs everything we put on it, it helps us regulate our body temperature by sweating or keeping us warm, our skin contains secretions that can kill bacteria and the pigment melanin, in our skin, provides a chemical defense against ultraviolet light that can damage skin cells.

Many MD's and skin care expert are now confirming they are seeing increased skin irritations from the use of synthetic chemicals. In short, by evaluating the everyday products you are using; you may avoid unnecessary exposure to many of these harmful chemicals.

P.S. Do you suffer from headaches or migraines? This common symptom that has been normalized as part of being human is telling you a lot. Including, being exposed to chemicals that are inflaming your brain and body…

What’s important for clean beauty products is that they are:

  • EWG Verified = Safe for you, and for the environment.

  • Plant-derived

  • Vegan

  • Cruelty-free

  • Sustainably sourced

  • Certified B-corp

  • Leaping Bunny certified

What ingredients should you avoid?

The answer is simple – you should avoid potentially harmful ingredients. Currently there are thousands of chemicals that are used in our personal care products every single day and many of those still have not been tested for human use/consumption….

A quick story: Have you ever found a great product, you love it, thought it was clean and good for you, it became your new favourite thing and then 3-4 months later it vanished from the shelf? I know this has happened to me too….Sometimes, it is because our Canadian FDA and the US FDA have different policies on what can be sold here…. But also their may be a pretty good chance their was an ingredient in that product that is harmful to us…. Today I am providing you with some of the most common chemicals to watch out for:

Parabens and Phthalates

Parabens phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are used as preservatives in cosmetics and skincare products. They can be found in everything from shampoo to moisturizer to makeup. Parabens have been linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, and endocrine disruption. Phthalates have been linked to reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, developmental (for those of us trying to conceive) and reproductive toxicity.


Sulfates are harsh chemicals that are used as cleansing agents in cosmetics and personal care products. They can be found in everything from shampoo to body wash, face wash to scrubs. Sulfates have been linked to skin irritation, endocrine disruption, and reproductive toxicity. You should avoid beauty products that contain these ingredients and instead look for products that are “sulfate-free.”


The fragrance is a proprietary term that can refer to any number of potentially harmful chemicals and sadly using the terms proprietary blend or artificial fragrance, or contains fragrance, keeps companies safe from having to disclose what makes up said scents. Found in perfumes, colognes, febreeze, room sprays, scented candles and other scented products. Fragrance chemicals have been linked to allergies, asthma, skin irritation, endocrine disruption and cancer.


Talc is a mineral that is often used in cosmetics, baby powder, and other personal care products. Talc has been linked to ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and respiratory problems. When looking for skincare and beauty products look for products labeled “talc-free.”


Silica is used as an absorbent, anticaking, and abrasive agent in everything from oral care products to foundation. Silica has been linked to lung cancer and respiratory problems. You should avoid beauty products that contain these ingredients and look for products labeled “silica-free.”


Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly (i.e. petroleum jelly). It is used as a barrier to lock moisture in the skin in a variety of moisturizers and also in hair care products to make your hair shine. petrolatum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and tar!!!!! Studies suggest that exposure to PAHs — including skin contact over extended periods of time — is associated with cancer. On this basis, the European Union classifies petroleum as a carcinogen and restricts its use in cosmetics but in North America there have been no efforts to remove petroleum from our skin care and/or makeup. PAHs in petrolatum can also cause skin irritation and allergies. Tar is used to create those bright pigments you love in your makeup. Pinks, red, purples, greens… we love to brighten up our best features and don’t even know that we are harming our bodies while doing it!

How to switch to clean beauty products?

First things first we need to take this in chunks as you cannot change everything overnight and many of our commonly used products can carry high price tags. So, one product at a time, take a look at your current cosmetics and skincare products.

I suggest downloading the EWG app and scanning or plugging in the names of your products to see their clean rating. You are really looking for an EWG verification seal as this is the gold standard of product ratings. Thankfully BeautyCounter has an incredible roster of products that are EWG verified! Once your product has been rated, have a look at the ingredients coming up as unclean. The app will even tell you common health concerns that product has been linked to. If you’re concerned about continuing your product usage, consider switching to products that don’t contain these harmful ingredients. P.S. The EWG is not just for beauty care products. Household cleaning agents, room sprays, hari care, perfume, baby products, even food!… you can look at thousands of products and make informed decisions on how you spend your hard earned money moving forward to better your health.

You can start by supporting beauty brands that are committed to formulating, manufacturing and providing clean beauty products. As a consultant I am passionate about using and promoting Beauty Counter. At BeautyCounter: “We are leading a movement to a future where all beauty is clean beauty. We are powered by people, and our collective mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone. “ BeautyCounter works to formulate, advocate, & educate. That’s our motto. We are creating clean beauty products that truly perform while holding ourselves to unparalleled standards of safety.”

The movement is simple: beauty should be good for you and the environment. It should give back to all earth's inhabitants, not deplete it’s resources, create substandard working conditions or condone poor trade agreements. Clean products just like clean water should be accessible to EVERYONE! Together we need to work at creating a world that is sustainable for every human as well as the ocean, animals and vegetation that keep it vital.

Finally, spread the word about clean beauty. Talk to your friends and family about it. The more people are aware of clean beauty, the more pressure there will be on the cosmetics industry to change. This year BeautyCounter will descend to Parliament in Ottawa to lobby for changes to the Beauty Care Industry. As a woman who knows the average woman slathers their body in over 250 chemicals daily, I want to be there, I want to be part of the change. Do you want to come with me? We need to rise up, we need to be the change we wish to see in the world. It starts with us.

If you want more information on BeautyCounter and it’s wonderful products head to my website: and click on my BeautyCounter tab.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Marissa Sylvester, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

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