Is Your Skincare Toxic?

Is Your Skincare Toxic? | Clean, natural beauty products by Strive to Thrive Nutrition

Your skin is your largest organ, covering your body from head to toe. It plays an important role as your first line of defense between the outside world and your precious internal systems. Yet skin is not impermeable. You witness this every time you slather lotion on your body and watch it absorb. Those lotions, creams, serums, and so on soak in and become a part of you, so doesn't it make sense to pay close attention to what is actually in them?

Let's be honest ladies (and gents), your skincare routine is done more for vanity's sake than for the health of your skin. That dry, flaky skin, those pimples and red spots, that oily T-zone are nuisances that need to go away. If a product claims it will help, we assume that's a good thing. Zap those zits! Erase those lines!

Unfortunately, in the effort to keep our outsides looking good, we end up using products that can totally mess up our insides. The U.S. government has approved the use of thousands of chemicals in skincare products, many of which have been shown in studies to have harmful impacts on health.

Just as the FDA has deemed food additives such as Red Dye 40 and MSG as "safe", it is doing the same for many of the additives used by the cosmetics industry.

For example, parabens (one of the most common cosmetic additives used as a preservative) mimic estrogen in the body, leading to a host of problems related to hormonal imbalance such as weight gain, irregular cycles and breast tenderness. I avoid excess soy for this same reason, so why would I slather my body in paraben-laden lotions?

You know I care deeply about what I put in my body. That means eating real, properly-prepared, nutrient-dense foods...AND also applying skincare products and makeup that are free of toxins.

In the past few months, I've started reading skincare labels the same way I read food labels– if I see an ingredient I don't recognize or can't make sense of, I don't buy it.

I urge you to go through your skincare products and start looking at labels. Just like buying cheap food can make you sick, buying cheap makeups and skin creams can do the same.

What your skincare products shouldn't have:

  • Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, etc.)
    • synthetic preservatives that can mimic estrogen and disrupt endocrine health
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate & Sodium laureth sulfate
    • a foaming agent that causes eye and skin irritation; nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested; often contaminated with carcinogens during manufacturing
  • BHA & BHT
    • preservative and stabilizer suspected to increase cancer risk and have a negative impact on the liver
  • Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)
    • chelating agent linked to organ toxicity
  • Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP, etc.)
    • platicizers used to make products more pliable; endocrine disrupters; may cause birth defects
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds)
    • solvent and humectant often contaminated with carcinogens
  • Formaldehyde
    • preservative that is a known carcinogen; linked to respiratory toxicity and neurotoxicity
  • Synthetic fragrances & flavors
    • common allergen and irritant

There are many more potentially harmful additives. EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database is a great resource.

What your skincare products should have:

  • Nourishing, natural oils (shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, etc.)
  • Saponified oils in soaps, cleansers (such as coconut oil)
  • Essential oils & natural plant extracts
  • Natural minerals
  • Ingredients you could eat!

Some of my favorite clean beauty products:

Wild Carrot Herbals Vanilla Bean Skin Cream

Made with creamy coconut, shea and cocoa butters, this skin cream is rich without being heavy or greasy. Scented with real Madagascar vanilla beans, it smells absolutely delicious. I apply it to my face every morning before putting on my makeup.

Is Your Skincare Toxic? | Clean, natural beauty products by Strive to Thrive Nutrition
Is Your Skincare Toxic? | Clean, natural beauty products by Strive to Thrive Nutrition

Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Wash

This face wash removes all my makeup at the end of the day and it doesn't dry out my skin. A little bit goes a long way (I use about a pea-size amount) so this bottle will last you quite awhile.

Nourish Organic Deodorant in Fresh Fig

I've tested quite a few natural deodorants and this is far and away my favorite. It does not contain aluminum like your typical antiperspirant (which has been linked to breast cancer). Instead it uses organic cornstarch to reduce wetness and combats body odor all day long with plant enzymes and natural fragrance. The Almond Vanilla and Lavender Mint scents are also very nice.

Is Your Skincare Toxic? | Clean, natural beauty products by Strive to Thrive Nutrition
Is Your Skincare Toxic? | Clean, natural beauty products by Strive to Thrive Nutrition

Alaffia Everyday Coconut Body Wash in Purely Coconut

Similar to the face wash, this body wash creates a rich lather and doesn't dry my skin. It has a light, pleasant smell (not overly coconut-y or tropical) and this BIG bottle will last you for months.

Booda Butter Daily Moisturizer

I keep a tin of this on my nightstand to rub into my hands before bed. It smells like white chocolate and moisturizes extremely well. It's thick and greasy in the best way. 

Is Your Skincare Toxic? | Clean, natural beauty products by Strive to Thrive Nutrition
Is Your Skincare Toxic? | Clean, natural beauty products by Strive to Thrive Nutrition

Portland Bee Balm

This is the chapstick I always have in my purse. Nothing feels better on my lips and I love that it's made locally (for me). Plus, the natural wood label is pretty darn cute. They recently released an Oregon Mint option that I have yet to try.

Looking for clean makeup options? I'll have another post coming your way soon with my top picks for makeup that is free of nasty chemicals. Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe!

15 Comment

  1. Edie says: Reply

    What about sunscreens?

    1. Carly says: Reply

      Great question! Oxybenzone, one of the most common chemical sunscreens, is a common allergen and skin irritant and is also believed to be an endocrine disrupter and to negatively affect cardiovascular function. A natural sunscreen option is zinc oxide, which acts as a physical barrier against UV rays. has some great resources, including a list of sunscreens that meet their safety criteria. I’ll have to do some more testing when summer comes around!

  2. Stacey says: Reply

    Thanks for this post friend! I’m looking forward to the makeup post!

    1. Carly says: Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! Let me know if you are looking for recommendations for any other products. I’m excited to do the makeup post soon ?

  3. I love Wild Carrot products and use them daily as well as Portland Bee Balm…my fave!!! Looking forward to the makeup post!!! 🙂

    1. Carly says: Reply

      Which Wild Carrot products do you like and use? I need to try more! Thanks for reading ☺️

  4. Nea says: Reply

    Is the BHA on your list the exfoliant? (aka salicylic acid)

    1. Carly says: Reply

      Hi Nea! Salicylic acid is a form of BHA that can be both naturally-occuring or synthetically produced. In cosmetics/skincare products it is most likely synthetic. There are concerns of it causing skin irritation and there is limit on the concentration allowed in products because it can burn the skin if the concentration is too high. If you are mainly using it as an exfoliant, I would suggest finding something less harsh and more natural. If skin dryness is an issue, you may need to increase your dietary intake of healthy fats or improve digestion of fats. Let me know if you have other questions!

  5. Jessica says: Reply

    Hi. Have you ever tried any of the Beautycounter products?

    1. Carly says: Reply

      Hi Jessica! I have heard a lot about Beautycounter and have several friends who use their products. One of them recently gifted me a facial oil that I’m enjoying. Other than that I haven’t tried their products. I totally appreciate their commitment to safety standards and quality, though some of their products aren’t quite as natural as I look for. Definitely a good choice though compared to most other companies! I do plan to look into them more in the future.

  6. Jessica says: Reply

    Thank you, Carly! I love how knowledgeable and dedicated you are. Just 2 of many reasons that I began following you and your story. I was shocked, after discovering Beautycounter, to find what our skin care and cosmetics are made with as well as what the US is allowed to use in products vs. the EU and other countries. Very scary!

    1. Carly says: Reply

      Thank you Jessica! You’re so sweet! I’m definitely making an effort to learn about clean skincare since I’ve been unaware for most of my life, and I know many others are as well. I’m glad you’re finding my posts helpful. I hope you enjoy my makeup post when it’s posted! Let me know if there are any other topics you’d like covered.

  7. I was shocked to know about the chemical used in most of the beauty products that I had in my makeup kit! Continous usage would have resulted in any adverse consequences. This post is an eye-opener and gives some valuable information for makeup fanatics like me who buy on impulse without thinking twice about the after effects. Now I am using organic beauty products as suggested. Thanks 🙂

    1. Carly says: Reply

      It is definitely shocking! I’m glad you found the post helpful!

  8. Indeed an alarming an informative post for a woman who uses beauty products regularly. I was really shocked to know about the harmful chemicals present in my beauty products. Now I have completely switched to organic beauty products, and I really love them. Thanks for the useful post.

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