Halloween is right around the corner – but you know what’s truly scary? The harmful ingredients hiding in your conventional skincare products. Shea Brand believes in crafting products with the highest quality ingredients possible. This means no toxic ingredients such as manufactured synthetics, chemical stabilizers, preservatives, parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. With growing concern about toxic chemicals in cosmetics, you may have heard about this already. But why are these ingredients are so important to stay away from?

Up to 60% of what you put on your skin can be absorbed – which means our skincare routine has a profound impact on the health of our whole body. This is why we only use natural and organic ingredients like vitamin E, essential oils, beeswax, and CBD in our products. We want to nourish the skin and create an inner atmosphere of vitality while also supporting the health and longevity of the planet. 

Keep reading to get the inside scoop on the scariest ingredients hiding in conventional skin care. Beware: these creepy crawly additives are everywhere. 

Sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS is a common ingredient added to personal care products to make them foam. They are found in most body washes, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, and laundry detergents. While this foam creates a pleasant experience and gives the illusion that the product is “working,” SLS has been linked to cancer, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and endocrine disruption. Although SLS is derived from coconuts, it is contaminated with two toxic byproducts – 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide – that are possibly carcinogenic to humans. This toxicity can cause negative effects in the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system.

Parabens were introduced in the 1950’s to elongate the shelf life of our beauty and personal care products. They stop the growth of fungi and bacteria and are listed under many different names and guises, the most popular being: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben. While the FDA has approved products that contain limited amounts of parabens, it is the cumulative exposure from several products that overloads our bodies and contributes to health problems such as hormone disruption… a serious problem that is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive problems.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals that act as solvents in cosmetic products. Hazardous phthalates are found in more than 70% of personal care products. Phthalates disrupt endocrines and can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. Most mainstream hairsprays, deodorants, nail polishes, and perfumes have phthalates in them. Phthalates have been banned in Europe since 2013 but are still widely used today in the U.S. and Canada.

Other haunting ingredients to look for and avoid in your skin care products when possible: BHA, BHT, coal tar dyes, DEA, DBP, formaldehyde- releasing preservatives, parfum or fragrance, PEG compounds, petrolatum, siloxanes, and triclosan. We also recommend staying away from anything with palm oil in it. Palm oil is commonly used in skincare, food, and household products because it is a non-toxic natural oil, however it is extremely harmful to the environment. You can read more about why we are palm-oil free here!

While this information is frightening, we urge you not to hide in fear this Halloween. At Shea Brand, we believe that knowledge is power. That when you take the time to get familiar with the ingredients in your products, you are intentionally supporting a more sustainable production chain (and a greener earth.) The way we see it, we always have a choice to consciously vote our ethics into reality with how we spend our dollars. You may not be able to get your products without these ingredients 100% of the time, but at least you will know to look for them. And that matters.

About the author: Faye Lessler is a California-born, Brooklyn-based freelance writer and founder of lifestyle blog, Sustaining Life. She enjoys writing mission-driven content while sipping black tea in a beam of sunshine.

This post was written by Faye Lessler, a California born, New York City based advocate for holistic sustainable living. Faye is the author of sustainable lifestyle blog, Sustaining Life, and is passionate about making an ethical & eco-friendly lifestyle easier and more accessible for all. Faye is also a freelance writer and the Events + Talent Manager for the Ethical Writers & Creatives. Faye has been featured in Glamour and NY Magazine and has collaborated with sustainability leaders Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, and Klean Kanteen.