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Toxic Ingredients in the Skincare Industry

Written by Erin, one of the founders of Shula.


There was a time when I didn’t give much (maybe any) thought to what was in the products I used on my skin. I enjoy trying new skincare and makeup products and am a bit of a junkie when it comes to searching for products that feel luxurious, smell good and actually work.


Dealing with autoimmunity issues eventually led me down the path of truly paying attention to what is in all those appealing products. What I began to find was actually the complete opposite of appealing! The largely unregulated cosmetic industry allows approximately 12,500 ingredients used in cosmetics and skincare to go to market without any safety testing. The average adult uses 9 products daily, and that means exposure to up to 126 chemical ingredients every day! Since what comes into contact with our skin may be absorbed into the bloodstream, that can lead to quite a large toxic load in the body.


Here are some of the most common toxic ingredients to avoid:


1.Parabens: A group of chemicals often used as preservatives to extend shelf life. These are one of the most common toxins you will find in many products. Why are they a problem? They can mimic estrogen in the body, leading to hormone disruption that can result in increased cancer risk and fertility issues.


2. Fragrance: This one is tricky…most companies do not disclose what’s in the ingredient listed as “fragrance” or “perfume” because they are protected by the “trade secret” classification. Often there are hidden toxins, so a good rule of thumb is if a company does not disclose exactly what they use, skip the product.


3. Phthalates: A group of chemicals used to soften, make products more pliable and help them stick to skin. These are known endocrine disruptors, are especially dangerous to children, and also can cause birth defects.


4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: This ingredient is used to make products foamy. It can irritate skin and trigger allergies.


5.BHT: A synthetic antioxidant used to lengthen shelf life, it is also likely carcinogenic and disrupts hormones. Prolonged use of BHT may lead to liver damage.


6. Lead: I found it interesting and concerning to learn that no safe blood level of lead has been identified. It is a heavy metal and a neurotoxin and can lead to damaged kidneys, blood, and nervous system.


7. Formaldehyde: Used as a preservative (remember high school Biology class and the frogs? Yuck!), it is a known carcinogen, irritant and neurotoxin and can also exacerbate asthma.


8. PEG compounds: Polyethylene glycols are petroleum-based compounds often used in cosmetics to thicken and soften products. These compounds release oxide and dioxane which when exposed to can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and lungs and damage the nervous system.


These are just a sample of some of the most common ingredients that I really don’t want on my skin or anyone else’s. You will never find these ingredients in Shula skincare. We have made it our passion to create alternative skincare products that are luxurious and won’t make you feel like you are compromising effectiveness for safety. In future blogs, we will explore with you what ingredients to utilize instead!




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Unknown member
Feb 21, 2023

Last week I started a daily regimen of using the Shula Soap, Green Tea Body Balm, and Hibiscus Face Oil. The natural herbal products you use on your products is reassuring and I feel very gratified that no toxic ingredients were permeating my skin. I shall comment from time to time about my experiences in using your products. Wishing you "good luck" in your new venture, Erin and family. This is so very, very exciting! 😊

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