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Do Beauty Ingredients Really Matter?

woman with beauty products on

Do Beauty Ingredients Really Matter?

With all the beauty products that are on sale in the marketplace, it can be SO easy to fall for a product that may not be good for you. Can you believe we have to read our beauty products like we do our food labels? The problem is that there hasn’t been a change of regulation of beauty ingredients since the 1930’s. It’s free range right now.

Why Do We Have These + Not Europe?

Unfortunately, the guidelines that the U.S. goes by are crap for beauty ingredients. I’m not saying that’s just for beauty products either, but for food as well. Europe has stricter guidelines, which I respect more versus the U.S.

I don’t believe most beauty companies are out to get us and want to harm us. BUT, I think they trust that the government has “done the research” and would ban certain ingredients if it was bad + they put that trust in them when they shouldn’t. I could say the SAME about food. Why is there high fructose corn syrup when it’s been SHOWN to affect our body in such a negative way resulting in chronic diseases.   So, no I don’t think most beauty companies are out to get us. I think they are just uneducated in certain aspects + we need to make sure we’re researching for ourselves in unbiased sources. Plain + simple.

Let’s head into some of the commonly problematic beauty ingredients…


Parabens are preservatives that inhibit the growth of bad pathogens, like bacteria to grow in the product. Most of our exposure to parabens are found in skincare products as it’s absorbed through the skin.

Parabens aren’t only found in skincare (most of it is), but it’s found in packaged foods. I’ve also heard of small amounts of parabens being found naturally in food. In the Journal of Applied Toxicology, they explained how parabens are able to penetrate our skin, but they aren’t being broken down. They are absorbed as a whole into our body. When we digest things, this is a WHOLE different track. If we do ingest naturally occurring parabens, we are able to break them down MORE versus it being absorbed as a whole into our body via topical.

**I also want to mention that we aren’t able to avoid all the bad stuff in life. We walk outside and it’s polluted. I get that. BUT, since our world IS so toxic, we need to do everything that we can that we have in our control to give us the best outcome + optimal health.**

So, how do parabens affect our endocrine system? Parabens mimic estrogen due to their similar structure and bind to estrogen receptor sites on the cell. Parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors, as well as urine tests showing that we absorb a lot.

There was a study that was reported by Berkeley that showed parabens stimulating breast cancer cell growth especially when it was with heregulin (naturally made in breast cells), then the parabens were triggered to stimulate cancer cells.

Existing chemical safety tests, which measure the effects of chemicals on human cells, look only at parabens in isolation, he said. They fail to take into account that parabens could interact with other types of signaling molecules in the cells to increase breast cancer risk.

Ultimately, this study is showing how our body is a whole and there are so many different factors to take into consideration on how these chemicals affect us.

A study that was done in the Environmental Health Perspectives followed 100 young girls and saw that these chemicals were decreasing by 30-44% within 3 days of stopping these beauty products that contained phthalates + parabens. This shows that WE HAVE power to reduce the amount of chemicals inside our body.


Phthalates are chemical esters of phthalic acid and help with the flexibility, pliability and elasticity of plastics. Phthalates can be measured in breast milk, urine, and blood. Metabolites of phthalate has been shown to also penetrate the human placenta. It does the same thing as parabens, which is binding to estrogen receptors and androgen receptors. When it binds to androgen receptors, it can lower free testosterone levels.

There is a bigger bioavailability when it bypasses the digestive system, like being absorbed transdermally.

There has been studies that linked up early phthalate exposure with babies in utero that caused small body sizes + possible early labor. There has also been a handful of studies that studied childhood exposure and health outcomes. It showed increased growth measurements in childhood to teens, this includes obesity, BMI, hip + waist circumference. 

How These Ingredients Affect Weight?

Any type of endocrine disrupting chemical can affect your weight. Your endocrine system is a big part of how we metabolize our carbs, proteins, and fats. If you are taking in an ingredient that is disrupting this process, it will alter your fat metabolism. This is through the change of PPAR-gamma (proliferator-activated receptor gamma). When you activate this PPAR-gamma, if it’s pre-adipoctye, it will become an actual fat cell. If it’s already one, it’ll put more fat into the cell. You’ll hear these chemicals called obesogens.

Getting deeper into it, these chemicals can interfere with nuclear transcriptional regulators that control fat cell proliferation. These receptors bind to DNA and regulate gene expression. As a nutritionist, one of the most common things I hear is that it’s “in my genes”, but the majority of our genes can be influenced by our lifestyle and diet. A beautiful topic called epigenetics. Beauty products are considered into the category of lifestyle. These dangerous chemicals that are in beauty products and our industry are not only influencing your genetics, but it’s being studied on passing these genetic changes to future generations

Other Beauty Ingredients + Why They Harm Us

The International Agency for Research on Cancer rates BHA/BHT a possible human carcinogen. This substance can also bioaccumulate, which means it can easily build up in your body and isn’t easily as excreted.

Fragrance – Unfortunately, this term while it may seem super harmless, it is harmful. This term is VERY broad and hidden in this term can be those phthalates and other chemicals. You have to trust the company that you are buying from.

Polyethylene glycol is expected to be harmful because it can be contaminated with ethylene (eth-ah-leen) oxide and 1,4 dioxane. These are both possible human carcinogens with strong evidence of cancer with 1,4 dioxane.

Formaldehyde is another big ingredient that has been studied to be possible human carcinogen. It’s the chemical we embalm the dead with. It can also be under different names: 1,3 Dioxetane, Methylene Oxide, Methanal, Urea, and more.

We also can’t just look at how these chemicals affect us as humans. We have to look at how it affects our environment + ecosystem. Everything that is being washed off of us ultimately goes into the ecosystem. We’re a part of the ecosystem, so we need to take care of it!

I’m all for natural goodness, trust me! BUT, I also want to say that just because an ingredient is “synthetic” doesn’t automatically mean it’s harmful to our health or our ecosystem. Still dig for where the synthetic ingredient is sourced + if it is harmful to our body.

Have you switched from normal beauty products? What is your favorite brand of safe beauty? I’ve also talked about plastics dangers before as well!

Avatar for Lahana Vigliano
Lahana Vigliano

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Nuvitru Wellness. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@nuvitruwellness).