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The Guy’s Guide to Toxic Skincare Ingredients

Posted by Oars + Alps on

The Guy's Guide to Skincare Ingredients - What to Avoid and Why

Can we get Bill Nye on you for a minute? Skin is your largest, heaviest organ — it makes up roughly 16% of your body weight and if you stretched it out it would cover a door frame. It protects you from the elements and harmful bacteria, regulates your body temp, and all the while gives you the ability to move and touch. Your skin is pretty important.

Now consider this. Your skin absorbs 60% of what you put on it, on par with estimates for absorption in your digestive system, and certain chemicals are very good at penetrating skin. Yet while food and drink get filtered and metabolized by our digestive system, the things you put on your skin can enter your bloodstream without the toxins ever getting removed. Given all of this, it’s important to pay attention to what we’re feeding our skin day in and day out. 

With a little research, you can easily make the switch from harmful chemicals to natural, nourishing ingredients that are just as, if not more, effective. Our men’s skincare guide will show you how to identify ingredients to avoid in your everyday products — think shampoo, deodorant, face wash, and body wash.

What’s in Your Shampoo? Sulfates in Men’s Hair Care

What’s the big deal with sulfates? Sulfates are a major culprit in the mainstream skincare industry. They are chemicals used to make certain liquids blend, remove dirt and oil from skin and hair, and create a sudsy lather. But they also strip important oils from skin and hair and can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Meanwhile, they break down proteins vital to muscle health. Hello extra gym time.

How to Identify Sulfates

  • Men’s products that typically contain sulfates include:
    • Shampoo
    • Body Wash
    • Face Wash
    • Soaps
    • Shaving Cream
    • How do you identify sulfates?
      • When you’re looking at an ingredient list, look for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Sometimes it’s abbreviated as SLS.

    Parabens & Phthalates - Not Just in Perfume

    Nobody wants to smell like B.O. But you don’t need to use harsh or toxic chemicals to find a product that’ll keep you dry, fresh and smelling put-together. Parabens and Phthalates are chemicals that are widely used in deodorants and other skincare products.

    Parabens are preservatives that slow bacteria growth so that products have a longer shelf life. But they are easily absorbed by the skin and disrupt the way our body produces and regulates critical hormones such as estrogen.

    Phthalates are chemicals used to make products and scents stick to our skin. They also disrupt our ability to produce and use hormones such as testosterone, and may even lead to birth defects.

    How to Identify Parabens

    • Men’s products that typically contain parabens include:
      • Deodorant 
      • Moisturizer
      • Body lotion
    • How do you identify parabens? 
      • Look for words in an ingredient list that end with -paraben. 
      • Some examples are methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, polyparaben and isobutylparaben.

    How to Identify Phthalates

    • Men’s products that typically contain phthalates include those that leave a scent on your skin after being applied. For example:
      • Deodorant 
      • Antiperspirant
      • Shampoo
      • Conditioner
      • Hair-styling products
      • Body Wash
      • Soap 
      • Face moisturizer
      • Body lotion
    • How do you identify phthalates?
      • Phthalates are not typically listed as a discrete ingredient, as they are hidden within the general term “fragrance.” That said, the word fragrance doesn’t always mean the product includes phthalates. Though you won’t typically see them listed, they include DBP, DEHP, DEP and others.
      • The best thing to do is look for products that explicitly state they are paraben-free.

      Suds Up Sans Triclosan

      Triclosan is a very common chemical added to kill bacteria. It’s so common, in fact, that it’s been found in 75% of the U.S. population’s urine. Triclosan is another hormone disruptor, particularly of the reproductive system and thyroid.

      How to Identify Triclosan

      • Men’s products that typically contain triclosan include:
        • Antibacterial hand soaps
        • Deodorant 
        • Antiperspirant
        • Toothpaste
        • Moisturizers
        • Body Wash
        • Bar Soaps
        • Anti-acne products
      • How do you identify Triclosan?
        • Triclosan, and its close cousin Triclocarban, will be listed as an active ingredient.
        • Pay special attention if a product claims to be “anti-bacterial”

      Shop Smarter with Natural Skincare Products

      • Making the switch to natural skincare products can help you minimize the toxins you put on your body. While many of the biggest brands in the U.S. haven’t taken the step to remove these chemicals from their products, with a little information you are better armed to choose products that will get you the results you want and be good for you, too.
      • At Oars + Alps, we take our approach to ingredients very seriously. We’ll never use any of the toxic ingredients above, and there are many others on our “no-way” list
      Instead, we swap out the toxic stuff in favor of natural ingredients with powerful results. Check out the list of the natural ingredients we love.


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