Moisturizers: Hope (or Harm) in a Jar? Healthy Home

Moisturizers: Hope (or Harm) in a Jar?

If those skin care ads with dewy, radiant models have ever compelled you to instantly declare, “I need that skin cream,” we’ve been there. And why not indulge? With claims promising to reduce signs of aging, smooth wrinkles, clear up dry spots and more, the products seem almost too good to be true. Trouble is, they might be. Since these claims are widely underregulated by the FDA, it’s up to you to know what you’re putting on your skin. Luckily, we’re here to help!

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit founded to protect consumers from toxic contaminants, has created the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which provides hazard ratings for more than 3,000 common moisturizers. Products are given a score—from 0, being the safest, to a 10, the most dangerous—based on the amount of harmful ingredients they contain. But what to do if your favorite moisturizer isn’t on the list? Here are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • Fragrance: Not only can fragrances be linked to allergies, skin reactions, breathing problems and more, but many fragrances belong to a group of chemicals called phthalates, which are known hormone disrupters. Why are these bad? They can affect how estrogen behaves in the body, throwing off your hormonal balance and potentially leading to breast cancer development.
  • Sunscreen: Contrary to popular belief, not all sunscreens are created equal. Many sunscreens contain chemical UV screens that are considered hormone disruptors. Instead, apply a thin layer of a zinc- or titanium-based sunscreen (which aren’t hormone disruptors) over your moisturizer for safe fun in the sun!
  • Estrogen: This one is tricky—no moisturizer will explicitly list estrogen as an ingredient. However, you might see “placental extract” or “placental protein,” which contains estrogen and can alter the natural production of the hormone in your body. Other estrogen sources to look out for? Parabens, the widely used preservatives that often go by methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben or isopropylparaben.
  • Retinyl Palmitate: Despite being made from good ol’ Vitamin A, this moisturizing ingredient may increase the risk of skin cancer when exposed to sunlight.

Now that you know what to look for, check back next week for tips on how to moisturize with minimal risk!

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