The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have a lot of pull when it comes to chemicals in skin care. In fact, during each phase of a product’s lifecycle, the FDA has a fairly limited scope. They don’t approve cosmetics for sale or require cosmetics to get pre-market approval (with the exception of color additives). If a problematic product winds up on shelves, the FDA doesn’t even have the authority to recall it. The only time the FDA can intervene is when a product is either adulterated or misbranded.
While it can be discouraging to learn that cosmetics aren’t regulated in a way that puts consumers first, it can also be a call to action. Carefully reading product labels and buying only what you’re comfortable with may be the best way to advocate for change.
Banned in the EU and listed as a possible human carcinogen under California’s Prop 65, butylated hydroxyanisole can be found in creams, lipsticks, lip glosses and deodorant. Check labels for BHA or BHT to avoid this chemical.
Believed to be an endocrine disruptor that can cause thyroid disruption, octinoxate is found in some shampoos, lipsticks and skin creams.
Banned in Japan and Sweden and restricted in the EU, formaldehyde is still found in US products. Either added directly to shampoos and body washes or released from preservatives, formaldehyde is linked to allergic reactions and possibly some cancers, making it one of the top chemicals in skin care to avoid.
Coal tar is a byproduct of burning coal and, according to some experimental studies, is thought to cause skin tumors and neurological damage. On labels, it’s sometimes referred to as naphtha distillate or petroleum benzin.
This chemical is banned in the EU but is still commonly found in skin lighteners and face washes in the US. It’s thought to be linked with organ-system toxicity and cancer.
Parabens are thought to be endocrine disruptors that can be absorbed through skin, blood, and the digestive system and should be avoided at all times.
Being an educated consumer doesn’t have to feel like at part-time job! If you’d rather spend your reading time curled up with a good book instead of in a drugstore aisle, shop Theoderma’s skin care line. We mindfully craft every product with the highest-quality ingredients without a single worrisome chemical.Savy Guthrie has been a PA working in dermatology for 17 years and has worked in medicine for 20 years overall. She has treated tens of thousands of patients, helping them achieve healthy, beautiful skin.
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