It can be very confusing reading ingredient labels - natural ingredients sound like chemicals, some chemicals are safe, most of them sound alike - we get it. So we're here to be the truth teller, to do the research for you, and to of course provide you with products you don't ever have to question the safety of.
Keep reading for a little illumination on the top 8 toxins you may find (and should avoid) in your brow products.
TWO TYPICAL BROW PRODUCT INGREDIENT LISTS
Bolded below are the most popular ingredients you need to look out for in your brow products. Find more on each ingredient below!
Water, Mica, Glyceryl Stearate, Pentylene Glycol, Polypropylene, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, PEG-100 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Panthenol, Glycerin, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Silica, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate. May Contain (+/-): Yellow 5/Yellow 5 Lake (Ci 19140), Blue 1 Lake (Ci 42090), Ultramarines (Ci 77007), Bismuth Oxychloride (Ci 77163), Chromium Oxide Greens (Ci 77288), Chromium Hydroxide Green (Ci 77289), Iron Oxides (Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499), Ferric Ferrocyanide/Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide (Ci 77510), Manganese Violet (Ci 77742), Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891).
Cyclopentasiloxane, Isododecane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Silica, Polyethylene, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Ozokerite/Synthetic Wax, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Mica, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Propylparaben, May Contain: (+/-) Iron Oxides (Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499), Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Bismuth Oxychloride (Ci 77163
WHAT THESE INGREDIENTS ARE
1. PARABENS (Usually Propylparaben)
Also Known As: Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Methylparaben, and Propylparaben.
Their Purpose: Parabens are a common preservative used in cosmetics and personal care products.
Why They’re Toxic: Probably the most well-known toxin in beauty products, parabens have strong linkages to cancer, endocrine disorders, immune disorders, and neurological & developmental conditions. They mimic estrogen and can trigger breast cell division and the growth of tumors.
What It Is: Another common preservative, phenoxyethanol is hotly contested in cosmetics.
Why It's Toxic: In high doses, it can cause nervous system toxicity + lung/skin irritation. In low doses, it is considered fairly safe. The problem: the percentage used in a product is not disclosed on the ingredient label, so you don’t know what level of exposure you’re getting. Considering all the toxins we're already exposed to on a daily basis, we believe in eliminating them wherever we can – especially anything directly on our skin.
Our Preservation Method: We use a patent-pending process called ‘Bacterial Hurdle Technology” which is a borrowed technique from food preservation methods. It essentially creates a hostile environment for bacteria so they cannot survive or multiply. In our products, this is achieved through the combination of natural preservatives like Organic Aloe Vera, Organic Castor Oil, and Honey in very specific concentrations.
3. PEGS (POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL OR PEG-100 STEARATE)
Their Purpose: they’re used as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers.
Why They're Toxic: This group of ingredients is among the most potentially hazardous ingredients in cosmetics. They are synthetically produced using Ethylene Oxide, which is a known carcinogen. They also have a high potential of being contaminated with 1,4, Dioxane, another documented carcinogen.
What We Use Instead for Softening: Rhus Verniciflua Peel Cera - a sap obtained from the Verniciflua Rhus tree, used to give a soft consistency.
What We Use Instead As A Solvent: Isoamyl Cocoate - naturally obtained from esterification of lauric acid (from vegetable oils) and isoamyl alcohol (from fermentation).
4. ISOPARAFFIN, PARAFFIN WAX, LIQUID PARAFFIN
Its Purpose: Isoparaffin is derived from petroleum and is used as a solvent or skin conditioner in beauty products.
Why Its Toxic: Petroleum-derived ingredients are often contaminated with PAHS – a known carcinogen. Also, Isoparaffin acts as a sort of plastic wrap – impeding the skin’s ability to release toxins. This can have the effect of inhibiting brow growth as it doesn’t allow the follicles to breathe. Also, any other toxins in your brow product are being sealed in by this ingredient.
Our Solvent: Isoamyl Cocoate - naturally obtained from esterification of lauric acid (from vegetable oils) and isoamyl alcohol (from fermentation).
Our Skin Conditioners:
- Vitamin E: an effective skin moisturizer and potent anti-oxidant.
- Shea Butter: Nourishes the skin with vitamins A, E, and F.
- Olea Europaea (Olive Oil): Conditions the skin, rich source of antioxidants.
- Isoamyl Laurate: a conditioner, naturally obtained from the esterification of lauric acid (from vegetable oils) and isoamyl alcohol (from fermentation)
- Oryza Sativa Cera (Rice Bran) Wax: a natural wax obtained from rice bran. Functions as a skin softening agent
5. LAURETH 7 or EMULSIFYING WAX, MOST INGREDIENT THAT END IN “-ETH”
Its Purpose: Laureth-7 is a surfactant (cleansing agent).
Why It's Toxic: Derived from Polyethylene glycol, Laureth-7 has all of the potentially toxic properties listed above in PEGS.
What We Use: Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate - derived from coconut oil and fermented sugar.
Its Purpose: Polyacrylamide creates a thin coating over hair, nails, or skin. In a brow product, it would help hairs stay in position by preventing the hairs from absorbing moisture. The problem is (beyond the health risks and pore-clogging properties), hair needs moisture in order to grow. So these conventional products are actually inhibiting your hair growth by stripping essential moisture from your brows.
Why It’s Toxic: Polyacrylamide is made up of repeating molecules of acrylamide – a suspected carcinogen. It’s been found that daily exposure to acrylamide through cosmetics may exceed the amount that would result from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies acrylamide as a “probable human carcinogen.”
- The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has classified acrylamide as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
- The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies acrylamide as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
What We Use: We don’t have a direct replacement for Polyacrylamide as our goal is never to strip moisture from the hair. Moisture is essential to healthy hair follicles. Moisturized, healthy follicles = thick, healthy brows.
Its Purpose: It is used as an emulsifier, which means it helps bond ingredients together so they don't separate.
Why It’s Toxic: Polyethylene is considered to be a minor cancer hazard, a moderate skin irritation hazard, and a moderate hazard for immune system toxicity. Polyethylene is also considered a potential carcinogenic that has shown tumor formation at moderate doses when implanted into the body.
What We Use: Cetearyl Olivate: an emulsifier derived from olive oil. It also prevents the pomade from slipping.
8. CYCLOPENTASILOXANE & CYCLOHEXASILOXANE
Their Purpose: these silicones help products dry quicker and spread across the skin easier.
Why They're Toxic: These ingredients are regulated in the EU and are only considered safe in concentrations 0.01% and under. It is not regulated in Canada or the US however, so brands can use any amount they like in the formulas. In the second ingredient list shown above, Cyclopentasiloxane is the first ingredient - meaning it makes up a majority of the formula.
Even in incidents where this ingredient is low on the list, and so is considered a “minor toxic risk”, our view is: why would you take any risk with your health when there are hundreds if not thousands of amazing, 100% non-toxic beauty products that you could use instead?
- Environment Canada Domestic Substance List classifies cyclopentasiloxane as "expected to be harmful or toxic".
- Dow Corning Corporation has shown "animal tumor formation at moderate doses".
- Multiple studies have shown "endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity at moderate doses".
What We Use: Euphorbia (Candelilla) Wax – derived from the Euphorbia Cerifera plant and Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax – derived from the Brazilian tropical palm tree.
THE BONUS INGREDIENTS WE ADDED FOR GROWTH
Our Nourish & Define Brow Pomade works two ways for your brows: it fills them with gorgeous color, and it helps them grow thicker and healthier as you wear it. We believe that a great beauty item should heal and treat your skin and hair instead of mask it (and even hurt it in some cases). Here are our 5 magical ingredients that transform your brows over time:
The most well-known hair growth ingredient in our formula is Castor oil. This magical oil is full of omega fatty acids & proteins that are crucial for lash and brow enhancement. Used on its own, a user could see noticeable improvements. When combined with other synergistic botanicals, the effects are multiplied.
Coleus Forskohlii Root Oil
The exotic Coleus Forskohlii works with Castor Oil to transform your lashes and brows. The castor oil surrounds the coleus to deliver the growth properties direct to the hair follicle. Together they work to:
- Extend the growth phase of the lash cycle.
- Shorten the falling out phase to regenerate new lashes quicker.
Another bonus effect: coleus is known to increase the melanin in the hair follicles leading to an increase in pigmentation. In other words, it makes your lashes darker!
A major cause of hair breakage is Vitamin C deficiency - Gooseberry Extract helps replenish this essential vitamin directly to the follicle. This ingredient is also high in antioxidants which helps keep the hair and follicles healthy.
A plant-derived amino acid that helps maintain the healthy life cycle of the hair.
This plant-derived amino acid has been shown to help promote hair growth by improving the circulation to the roots.
Why Do Companies Still Use Toxic ingredients?
The bottom line is cost. These ingredients cost less to source and they are what has always been used. Reformulating a product takes time and money so companies avoid it unless it makes financial sense for them. So, when the cost of using toxic ingredients is higher than using natural (when consumers will no longer purchase their products), they will make the switch.
Ultimately, as consumers we determine the direction of the industry – only products that sell will be created and recreated.
Thanks for reading! We'd love to hear your comments and questions - leave them below or send us a message <3
-The Plume Team