Think before you pink this month, warns a Plantation-based beauty expert, author and national radio host.
David Pollock, who has formulated cosmetics for top brands L'Oreal, Smashbox and Bliss, is sounding the alarm on harmful, cancer-causing ingredients used in skin-care products that market themselves in support of breast cancer awareness.
"October is a love-hate month for me," says Pollock, who hosts "Beauty Inside Out," airing noon Tuesdays on IHeartRadio stations and at RadioMD.com. "I love that we are encouraging women to get checked and bringing awareness to the disease, but I hate that some beauty products contain cancer-causing ingredients. If it has a pink ribbon on it, you assume it helps the cause and you assume it's safe."
The list of harmful ingredients to avoid includes: parabens, phthalates, 1,4-dioxane, PEGs and glycols, lauryl/laureth sulfates, triethanolamine, triclosan, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances and dyes.
"Most skin-care products contain ingredients that are known carcinogens. Consumers can research this on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration website," Pollock says. "In Europe, 1,100 ingredients are regulated or banned from skin-care products. In the U.S., only 11 ingredients are regulated in skin care."
Up to 60 percent of these harmful ingredients can be absorbed into your body, he says.
"Look on the back of those bottles and make sure none of those ingredients are on there," he says. "Otherwise, put it back on the shelf and write or call the manufacturer and tell them you don't want these ingredients in your products."
Pollock, whose skin-care line, PUR Attitude (PurAttitude.com), contains none of those ingredients, is donating 50 percent of net sales to the National Breast Cancer Foundation this month.
Another factor to keep in mind: "Some companies slap a pink ribbon on their products as a marketing ploy and don't donate a dime to the cause. There is no law requiring them to donate what they collect," says Pollock, who has a self-published book, "Just Stop the Lies: Secrets the Beauty Industry Doesn't Want You to Know," available through Amazon.com.
The practice, known as "pink washing," is common in the beauty industry, he says. But Pollock is not the only one sounding alarm bells.
In September, Walmart announced it is working to ban some harmful ingredients in household, personal care and beauty products in its stores by 2016, according to a press release.
And the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental health research and advocacy organization, offers a database where consumers can check ingredients from more than 77,000 products, at EWG.org/SkinDeep.
Beauty expert David Pollock recommends avoiding the following ingredients.
Parabens: Including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, benzylparaben, butylparaben
PEGs and glycols: Including polyethylene glycol (PEG), butylene glycol, propylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or anything ending with "eth" or "oxynol"
Lauryl and laureth sulfates: Includes sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate
Petrochemicals: Including mineral oil, petrolatum, light liquid paraffin, petroleum distillate, mineral jelly and petroleum jelly
Synthetic chemicals and dyes: A cocktail of potentially hundreds of chemicals
Triethanolamine: Often listed as TEA
Triclosan: A popular antimicrobial agent used in sanitizers and hand soaps
Phthalates: A plasticizer used in lipsticks, nail polishes, fragrances and hair sprays.
1,4 dioxane: A contaminant formed as a byproduct during manufacturing of detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers and solvents. The FDA does not require it be listed as an ingredient, but it can be found in ingredients listed as PEGs and glycols.