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Article: These 5 Ingredients in Your Body Scrub are Actually Harming You


These 5 Ingredients in Your Body Scrub are Actually Harming You

Body scrubs are a great way to rejuvenate your skin. With their refreshing scents, shimmering appearance, and exfoliating properties, body scrubs make for a perfect mini spa treatment (even if it’s just in your bathroom). And there are tons of benefits to using body scrubs. They help to remove old dead skin, improve circulation, and increase the effectiveness of your moisturizer. But, what’s the real price for achieving that coveted smoothness? It might be higher than you think. If you’re not careful, your body scrub can end up causing more harm than good. The next time you shop around for body scrubs, watch out for these harmful ingredients!


What they are:

According to National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, phthalates are a group of man-made compounds that are colorless and odorless, and are used in most products ranging from plastics to personal care products. When used in cosmetics, they help to reduce brittleness, stiffness, and extend the scent of fragrances, making them the perfect additive for things like shampoo & conditioners, perfumes, and – you guessed it – body scrubs.

Why they’re bad:

As we know, most studies are unfortunately done on animals to account for eventual human safety (we’re not about that life, though), and in these studies, phthalates were found to negatively affect their reproductive systems. Despite these findings, the CDC somehow finds comfort with the conclusion that “More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to phthalates.” Guess they don’t really feel like doing that. Luckily, we did our own digging.

Supposedly, the U.S. banned the use of one of the most dangerous phthalates around - Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or DEHP for short, but only in children’s toys. This basically means that products for adults were – and still is – fair game. But there’s even more shadiness lurking around. According to the FDA, they deemed the phthalate diethyl phthalate (DEP) to be safe to use in cosmetics, yet in the toxicity review from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, their data supported that exposure to DEP, whether short or long-term, caused liver toxicity and other health-related problems. They’ve even been known to lower sperm count in men, result in lower IVF success rates, and increase the risk for miscarriages. DEP exposure is also unsafe for children and is known to cause allergies and airway inflammation as well as abnormal genital and behavioral development when exposed in utero.

The contradiction between the FDA and the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission alone makes this ingredient something to not be messed with.

Petroleum (mineral oil)

What they are:

Petroleum is a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons. When extracted and refined, it can be used to produce fuels like gasoline and kerosene. They are also used to make mineral, petrolatum, and paraffin oils which are used in personal care products as a moisturizing agent.

Why they’re bad:

When these oils are “properly” refined, they can be relatively harmless. But when was the last time non-Black-owned businesses cared about the quality of the products they market to us? ….Exactly. There’s no real way for the FDA to prove these oils have been properly refined BEFORE they’re put into cosmetic products. This is where the “why they’re bad” part comes in. When these oils aren’t properly refined, they become contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs…AKA cancer-causing carcinogens. At least the CDC agrees with this finding.

In Europe, it is required for cosmetic companies to have a full refining history when using petroleum, yet the U.S. doesn’t bother with setting that standard. Also, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any info regarding the consequences if a company’s products do NOT meet the FDA’s refining requirements for the use of petroleum derivatives. Here it basically says that ­errors from contamination are highly likely and give a nice “be careful” spiel afterwards.

Because that doesn’t seem sketchy at all…

Essentially, it’s like playing Russian Roulette whenever it’s listed in a products’ ingredients label. Let’s…not do that.


What they are:

The CDC defines parabens as man-made chemicals used in small amounts as a preservative in a number of products including food, pharmaceuticals, beverages, and cosmetics. They are used to protect from the cultivation of microorganisms in your products. There are various types of parabens and, usually, more than one are used within a single product – that includes body scrubs.

Why they’re bad:

This is one of the big ones for us. Because parabens closely mimic the structure of estrogen, they are considered to be hormone disruptors. While the CDC claims that the levels of parabens in cosmetics are safe, products marketed towards Black women contain far higher levels of parabens compared to those marketed towards other demographics. This is in accordance with the report by the CDC stating that non-Hispanic Black people had higher levels of methyl paraben than non-Hispanic whites. It also stated that women had several-fold higher concentrations of methyl & propyl parabens than men. Not only that, but parabens have also been linked to increased risk of breast cancer too.

Coincidentally, 80% of Black women will develop uterine fibroids by age 50 and are twice as likely to develop Grave’s Disease – a thyroid hormone related health issue – than their white counterparts. I’m not saying correlation equals causation, but I am saying that’s a pretty specific coincidence. Especially when you consider that Black women spend 80% more on cosmetics than white people do.

Sounding less like a coincidence, isn’t it?

Synthetic Fragrances

What they are:

Synthetic fragrances are a mixture of bunch of different man-made chemicals. These materials can be derived from petroleum or modified derivatives from other natural sources. They’re mainly used in products to produce a pleasant aromatic scent.

Why they’re bad:

Synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics are only FDA regulated, not FDA approved. In fact, companies aren’t required by law to list the exact chemicals that make up their “fragrance” ingredient in their products. In addition to this foolishness, this ingredient can be a compilation of a few dozen to a few hundred chemicals. Within this mixture, both phthalates and parabens can be present. This means companies can technically label themselves as paraben-free all while hiding their parabens inside their “fragrance” ingredient. Use of synthetic fragrances has been linked to the development of multiple health issues including asthma, migraines, skin conditions, cognitive problems, gastrointestinal issues, and immune system problems.

Back to the whole “not required by law” thing. Apparently, having companies list out their entire “fragrance” ingredients is equal to making them expose “trade secrets”. I know I’m using quotations a lot, but that’s how annoying these companies are. To them, protecting their product is more important than our health.

Hard Pass.

Worrying about these ingredients can be a headache and honestly? Ain’t nobody got time to read through every single label they come across. Luckily, you don’t have to do that here.

Now presenting our newest products: Mar Na Body Shop’s Lemongrass and Strawberry Coconut Body Scrubs.

These scrubs not only infuse the power of essential oils to moisturize, rejuvenate, and soften your skin, but they’re also 100% free of all the harmful ingredients listed here! For a full list of harmful ingredients to avoid, check out our Toxic Twenty List.

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