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Which cosmetic ingredients are bad for the environment?

Though the beauty industry has made progress when it comes to using safe and non-toxic ingredients, there are still a few out there that you’ll want to avoid if possible.

Just like other products we use in our modern-day lives, cosmetics are negatively affecting our environment. Many of these products contain plasticizers, surfactants, and chemicals linked to toxic effects on humans and the environment.

We wash these products down the drain or dispose of them in the trash, which means the toxins in the products and the packaging can get into our waterways and eco-systems where they can harm wildlife, and potentially come back to harm us too.

Below, we list some of the most damaging ingredients that you may still find in your cosmetics. You can read labels to avoid them in many cases, though in some instances the ingredients are by-products so they won’t show up on the label.

Buying from reputable companies—like CV Skinlabs!—that use only safe ingredients is another good way to protect yourself and the planet.

8 Cosmetic Ingredients that are Bad for the Environment

1. Chemical Sunscreens

Sunscreens like oxybenzone and octinoxate have been found to have a damaging effect on coral reefs. When they are flushed away into the water, they end up in coral reefs where they increase vulnerability to bleaching and prevent coral growth.

In a 2016 study, a team of international scientists found that oxybenzone enters the environment through wastewater and directly from swimmers wearing sunscreens. There, it creates four toxic effects, including DNA damage and gross deformities of baby coral. The authors of the study concluded that sunscreen alternatives could protect coral reefs.

These ingredients appear on the product label. We suggest using zinc or titanium dioxide, which are not only safer for the environment but for you as well.

Cosmetic Ingredients Bad for the Environment #2. Triclosan

This antibacterial agent is a popular ingredient when it comes to avoiding germs, but it has been found to harm algae and marine life. The FDA has also banned its use in antiseptic washes because it may increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

You can find this ingredient on the label. Look for triclosan-free soaps, sanitizers, and toothpaste.

3. Parabens

This ingredient, though it has decreased in recent years, is still found in some cosmetics. A preservative, it has been linked to cancer in some studies and has been found in the tissues of marine mammals like dolphins, sea otters, and polar bears.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also reports that these chemicals may cause reproductive issues in animals and kill coral reefs.

You can find this ingredient on the labels of some lotions, shampoos and conditioners, makeup, shaving gels, deodorants, and more. Look for words like propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben.

Cosmetic Ingredients Bad for the Environment #4. Chemical Fragrances

Stanford University reported in 2004 that household fragrances may be harming aquatic wildlife.

They tested chemical fragrances found in soaps, shampoos, deodorants, detergents, and other similar products on California mussels. They noted that these synthetic fragrances can get into the environment through sewers and drains.

In their study, the fragrances compromised the mussels’ ability to defend themselves, meaning that any future exposure to chemicals would be even more damaging to them. Humans could be similarly affected, in that exposure to chemical fragrances could make it easier for pollutants to enter the brain.

You can avoid synthetic fragrances by reading labels. If you see the word “fragrance” without an explanation, that means that an unknown number of chemicals may have been used to create the smell. Look for fragrance-free products or those that use natural ingredients like essential oils to create a pleasant scent.

5. Plastics

National Geographic reports that the amount of plastic packaging in U.S. products has increased by over 120 times since 1960, with almost 70 percent of that waste piling up in landfills.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that containers and packaging amounted to 82.2 million tons of solid waste in 2018. Meanwhile, about 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, and cosmetic containers contribute a great amount to that total.

Millions of fish and birds die from the complications of plastic being in and around the sea, but humans are at risk too. Plastic microfibers have been found in tap water and over 100 aquatic species consumed by humans.

Many beauty brands are taking notice of the issue, and working to make their packaging more sustainable. Here at CV Skinlabs, we use bottles and tubes that are recyclable, BPA/BPS-free and PFAS-free. We also print our product information on the inside of the boxes, to save resources, and are working towards utilizing post-consumer recycled materials as they become more readily available.

Our recycle codes are visible on our bottles, but it can be hard to determine whether you can recycle other beauty product packages. Your best approach is to research the company and find out whether they care about creating sustainable packaging.

You can also limit your use of single-use products, and look for packages you can refill and reuse.

Cosmetics Ingredients Bad for the Environment #6. BHT and BHA

These are popular preservatives often used in moisturizers, makeup, body lotions, deodorants, and shampoos. They are suspected of being hormone disruptors, but they are also linked to environmental harm.

They can cause genetic mutations in amphibians, for example, and can alter behavior and even cause death in fish and shellfish. You can see these on the label, so all you have to do is avoid products that use them.

7. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)

This is a plasticizing chemical—one of a class of chemicals called “phthalates.” You may find it in nail polishes to prevent them from becoming brittle, as well as in some hairsprays and insect repellants.

DBP can get into the environment when nail polish is removed and discarded down the drain or into the trash. It accumulates in the environment and affects a wide variety of aquatic species. As it builds up, it may alter behavior, genetics, growth, and reproduction.

You can find DBP on the label as one of the following ingredients:

  • 1,2 benzenedicarboxylic acid
  • DBP (ester) or dibutyl ester
  • Butyl phthalate
  • 1,2-benzenedicarboxylate

There may be other variations on these names as well, including celluflex DBP. Manufacturers may use it as a fragrance ingredient. If so, you probably won’t see it listed, but will see only “fragrance” instead.

8. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

PFAS are a toxic class of chemicals found in everything from nonstick cookware to carpets to firefighting foams. Investigators have found some PFAS to contaminate drinking water in many locations around the country. Studies have linked them to an increased risk of health issues including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, low birthweight, and cancer.

PFAS may also be found in cosmetics. Manufacturers sometimes add them to increase the durability and water-resistance of the product. In a recent study, scientists analyzed 231 cosmetic products—including concealers, eye makeup, foundations, lip color, and mascara—for fluorine, a marker of PFAS.

Overall, 52 percent of these products had high levels of fluorine, suggesting that the cosmetics contained high levels of PFAS. Mascaras, foundations, and liquid lipsticks were the most likely to have higher levels.

The results of this study prompted legislators to introduce a “No PFAS in Cosmetics” Act to ban PFAS completely from personal care products. It remains to be seen whether the legislation will pass.

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell currently whether your product has these chemicals or not. To try to reduce your exposure, limit how much makeup you use and how often you use it. Also, consider removing it as soon as you get home, or wipe off lip products before eating.

CV Skinlabs’ Commitment to Avoiding Cosmetics that are Bad for the Environment

We’re happy to report that at CV Skinlabs, we have been conscious of toxic ingredients from the beginning. When we were creating our products, we made sure to avoid all ingredients with toxic effects against humans or the environment.

Then we took extra steps to make our packaging recyclable and to minimize the resources used to create it.

But we didn’t stop there. Our work with sustainability is ever evolving. We regularly review our sustainability practices so that we can continue to reduce our impact on the environment.

You can feel good about using our products, knowing that they’re safe for everyone in the family as well as for the environment.

Do you avoid cosmetics that are bad for the environment?

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Coconut oil has been a hot topic in the beauty world for the last few years. We remove our makeup with it, slather it on our skin, and even brush our teeth with it. Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow have been preaching the benefits of the multipurpose oil for years, and beauty brands have jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon and dedicated entire lines to the do-it-all oil. 

While it’s safe to say almost everyone can find a place for coconut oil in their beauty routine, it might not belong in your hair. Depending on your hair type, coconut oil can be a holy grail or a total flop. It has fatty acids which help to moisturize and soften strands, and enhance shine. Unlike other oils, coconut oil can penetrate deep into the shaft of your hair  and trap moisture. Coconut oil works best paired with a hydrator for that reason. 

Is coconut oil bad for your hair?

Not sure if coconut oil is right for your hair type, or how you can add it into your routine? Keep reading. 

Coconut Oil Isn’t For Every Hair Type 

Although coconut oil is touted as a holy grail product, it may not be the best oil for certain hair types. Coconut oil has the ability to cause protein build up on some hair types. For those of you with fine to medium hair, you might see great results from adding a coconut oil hair mask to your routine. However, for those of you with coarse or dry hair, with an abundance of protein, it may make your hair more brittle and lead to hair loss. 

Coconut oil is great for people with high porosity hair as it blocks the cuticles and prevents water from flooding into the strands too quickly, helping your strands to retain moisture. If you have high porosity hair that means that water, oils, and other products can easily be absorbed into your hair. However, that means that your hair may not retain moisture as well as other hair types. For folks with low porosity hair it clogs the cuticle, making it hard for water to 

Not sure what your hair type is? There are so many different factors to determine hair type. One of the most important is hair porosity, which is your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. To find out if you have high or low porosity hair, take a bowl filled with water and place a single strand of hair in it. If your strand sinks to the bottom, you have high porosity hair, as it is absorbing all the moisture. If it floats to the top, you have low porosity hair that struggles to absorb moisture. If your hair sinks below the surface but doesn’t hit the bottom, you have a “normal” or balanced hair porosity. It’s important that you do not confuse hair texture with porosity, any hair texture can have high or low porosity strands. 

Is coconut oil bad for your hair?

How To Use Coconut Oil In Your Routine 

Overnight Mask 

First, part your hair into manageable sections to ensure that you evenly coat each strand. Then, rub the coconut oil between your hands until it becomes a liquid. You’ll want the oil to be warm (not hot) so that it can open the hair cuticles and penetrate your hair better. Focus on your ends, where your hair tends to be the driest and most damaged. If your hair is thin or you have a greasy scalp, you can skip the scalp so that the oil doesn’t weigh your hair down. We recommend doing this hair mask overnight, if you do it in the morning you risk going out with greasy hair. Also, don’t forget to cover your hair to avoid getting your pillowcase oily. 

Use It As a Pre-Poo Shampoo Treatment 

Your hair is most vulnerable when it’s wet, because of the structural changes that happen when your hair absorbs water. Applying oil to your hair before you shampoo will reduce the amount of water absorbed by the hair shaft, which will make it less prone to damage when it’s wet. Coconut oil doubles as a moisturizing pre-poo treatment for those whose hair feels dry or stripped after shampooing. Massage coconut oil from root to tip before you shampoo to prevent stripping and damage, and follow up with a shampoo that works best for your hair type. 

Use It To Boost Your Conditioner 

Coconut oil cannot moisturize on it it’s own, but used correctly it can help to enhance your moisturizing products. To give your conditioner a boost try adding a layer of coconut oil before you wash out your conditioner. After saturating your hair with conditioner, seal it in with a layer of coconut oil, leave it on for at least 15 minutes for softer, stronger hair. The oil is occlusive so it helps to seal in the conditioner’s hydrating ingredients, like slugging but for your hair.

Is coconut oil bad for your hair?

Swim-Proof Your Hair 

Without protection, swimming can wreak havoc on your hair. If you’re not a fan of wearing a swim cap, you can protect your hair with a layer of coconut oil. Coat your hair with a thick layer of coconut oil before going into the pool or ocean. The oil will create a barrier around your hair that will protect it from the sea salt and chlorine. 

Split End and Frizz Control 

Has it been a while since your last salon visit? Consider coconut oil your right hand man. Coconut oil can temporarily mend split ends in between salon visits. It’s also great for taming frizz because it tops moisture from absorbing into your hair, especially in humid climates, which can prevent frizz. Even in colder climates hair can look dry and frizzy, and coconut oil can penetrate the shaft and soften strand. 

Define Curls 

If your curls tend to lose definition throughout the day, try pairing coconut oil with your favorite gel or curl cream for dreamy ringlets that last all day. For maximum curliness, apply to damp hair. This will help make the strands more supple and helps them lock in the oil as the hair dries. You’ll be set with soft, juicy curls all day.  

How Not To Use Coconut Oil In Your Routine 

Despite claims, coconut oil cannot do it all. It won’t help with hair growth or dandruff. There are no scientific studies backing that coconut oil can help with hair growth, however it does help to prevent breakage. If you’re growing out your hair, but still want a longer and fuller look, you can always opt for hair extensions while it grows out. As for dandruff, coconut oil might lead to more buildup and a dehydrated scalp. If used directly on your scalp, coconut oil can clog pores and prevent hair follicles from “breathing”. 

Coconut oil can melt or harden depending on the temperature, so it’s best not to rely on it as a styling creme. You might leave the house one way, and walk outside to your hair looking and feeling greasy or stiff. Instead use products that are formulated with coconut oil to get the best results. 

Is coconut oil bad for your hair?

The Best Coconut Oil Infused Products 

Design Essentials Coconut and Monoi Curl Defining Gelee 

This coconut oil infused curl defining gelee works best on 3a to 4b hair, because of its lightweight consistency and medium hold it won’t weigh your hair down or make it crunchy. It moisturizes your hair, eliminates frizz, and enhances your curls. Add it as the last step in your wash-and-go routine for soft, juicy curls. It also smells amazing! 

Shea Moisture Leave-In Conditioner Treatment 

This leave-in conditioner is great for detangling, controlling frizz, and moisturizing your hair. It’s sulfate- free and formulated with 100% virgin coconut oil that will leave you with soft, manageable strands. Spritz on wet or dry hair for a boost of moisture and to prevent frizz. Bonus: your hair will smell like a Carribean holiday! 

Sephora Collection Multi-Purpose Oil 

This oil can be used anywhere on the body, but the formulation is perfect for adding extra shine and body to your hair. It can be used on wet or dry hair for shiny, frizz-free locks. It comes in an easy use bottle, so it’s easy to throw in your bag and use on the go. 

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Scalp Scrub 

We know that healthy hair starts with scalp care. If you have a dry, flaky scalp or are prone to build up this exfoliating shampoo can help to draw impurities and gently remove buildup from your scalp and strands. Apply to wet hair, focus on the scalp, for a clarifying treatment before following up with your favorite conditioner or post-shampoo treatment. 

Kopari Coconut Melt 

This multi-tasking coconut oil can hydrate from head to toe. Coconut melt is premium quality, unrefined, organic coconut oil that provides rich hydration to the hair, skin, and body. Use it as a deep conditioning mask on colour treated hair, or to mend split ends between salon visits. You won’t run out of ways to use this lavish oil.

Written by Phelisha Cassup

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