top of page

You Could be Putting Embalming Fluid on Your Face ...
Formaldehyde is Legal in Skincare in the US. Buyers Beware.

May 9, 2022

When they said "buyers beware", perhaps they really meant buyers beware ... it's on you to figure out what you are buying. In an industry filled with skin experts, dermatologists and celebrities founded skincare and make-up lines, you'd think many of these brands are a reliable and trusted source. 

You may find this jaw dropping but did you know that the laws governing the retail skincare and cosmetics industry are very limited? Known cancer-causing, carcinogenic ingredients are allowed in skincare and beauty products and are frequently seen in popular brands of varying price points. It is 100% legal. To give you a better perspective, the US bans only 11 chemicals from use in beauty products. The E.U. bans over 1300 chemicals. Let that sink in for a moment, what are you putting on you and your family's faces and bodies everyday?

When you see the term "fragrance" on an ingredients list, you may not think much of it. However, the term “fragrance” is, by design, a bucket into which beauty companies can put whatever ingredient they want, without having to disclose it on the label. When 

 you see “fragrance” listed, unexplained, on any cosmetics label—not just on perfumes, but also skin cream, shampoo, body wash, lipstick, anything—it’s important to know that it could include any number of some 3,000 potential cosmetic ingredients, some toxic, some not. “The term ‘fragrance’ has become a way for corporations to hide ingredients, from phthalates, parabens, potential endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, to anything toxic they don’t want to list on the label. What began as a term to keep perfume formulas a trade secret has evolved into this chemical dumping ground, a toxic loophole.

A main carcinogen to be aware of is formaldehyde, which can be used as a preservative in makeup, hair care, body products, fragrance, and skin care. It is what mortuaries use as embalming fluids to preserve dead bodies. To worsen this matter ... formaldehyde is never listed on labels; what is listed are the chemicals in formulas that release formaldehyde (when added to water, they slowly decompose, forming molecules of formaldehyde). There are 32 synonyms for formaldehyde. So what do you look for? Here are some for you to start ... : 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (bronopol); diazolidinyl urea; DMDM hydantoin; imidazolidinyl urea; sodium hydroxymethylglycinate; quaternium-15; polyoxymethylene urea, Bromopol, Glyoxal, methenamine, 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, Nitorpropane-1, Formalin, Methanal, Methyl Aldehyde, Methylene Oxide.

As of today, a suite of bills known as the Safer Beauty Bill Package is being reviewed in Congress. Together they aim to ban 11 of the most toxic chemicals—among them mercury, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, phenylenediamines (hair-dye chemicals), and the entire class of PFAS, or “forever” chemicals. They also would require beauty companies to disclose their flavor and fragrance ingredients and ensure supply-chain transparency as well. And because women of color and salon workers are among the most highly exposed to toxic chemicals (in the products marketed to them or commonly found in their workplaces), part of the package focuses specifically on those populations. However we are still a long way from where we should be and where other countries are at.

The lack of clear regulations in the beauty industry has led to some bad science and fear-mongering. “Clean” or “natural” doesn’t mean a product is chemical-free (all natural ingredients are, of course, chemicals), safer, or more sustainable, and “synthetic” doesn’t mean it is bad. Companies in the last years began to capitalize on this fear of science that's been created with their "natural" or "eco" products. The worst one, "chemical free". Anyone in the fields of science or chemistry can tell you, there are no products that can be chemical free. Besides lightning, heat and sound, which are state of matter and energy, everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical. As a matter of fact, in 2010, The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has announced a £1 million to the first person that can make a truly chemical free product. To this date, no one has been able to claim the prize.

Dr. Chris Flower, a toxicologist, spoke of the vital role of the internet in giving consumers more balanced information. He said: "Our research shows that when the media runs a scary story about the safety of chemicals, around half of online consumers go online to search for more information. With hundreds of sites promoting so-called safer, chemical-free products" information put out are misleading. Between the need to sale, misleading marketing campaign and false claims ... it is imperative that companies are transparent with their formulations so that people can make better-informed decisions and choices in their daily lives. It is also important that the media should take measures to promote a more science-based understanding of chemicals, what they really are and the very positive role they play in everyday lives.

The dose makes the poison is a common argument used by the conventional beauty industry. It is the idea that it’s okay to use ingredients with the potential to harm health because the amount used is very small or because there is not enough data to assess long-term toxicity. Yet, at Vivre SkinLabs, we say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Why risk health with the unknown when we have the ability to formulate with transparency and integrity? At Vivre SkinLabs, we adhere to a set of very strict, self-created standards. Our founder, Mina, had set out with a vision of not only formulating effective medical grade products but products formulated with ingredients that she could even use on her son. That means, no carcinogens, no harmful, hormone disrupting chemicals ... this includes parabens, phthalates, resorcinol, PEGs, ethanolamines, chemical sunscreens, BHT, PFAS, and heavy metal compounds. The science can be murky, but we avoid the clear offenders. Our guess is that you don't want embalming fluids in your hydrator and antifreeze in your cleanser right? 

We believe in our formulations and the science behind it. We believe in our manufacturing process. We believe in making products with integrity. All that matters to us. Our stance is simply about what's good for our health and always being at full disclosure.

Have you followed us yet?

bottom of page