Body lotions: which ones to avoid 11/11
(This article is adapted from the October 2011 ShopSmart magazine.)
When it comes to moisturizing lotions, there are a lot of choices, but many brands contain so many chemicals, you need a chemistry degree to understand them.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine ran tests over a 24-hour period on lotion formulas from Aveeno, CeraVe, Cetaphil, Eucerin, Gold Bond, Jergens, Lubriderm, Nivea, Suave, Vaseline, and store brands from CVS, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. Many products did a good job at moisturizing. But the testers were surprised at the number of ingredients each of the products contained, with some containing as many as 33 different chemicals.
Some ingredients, like water and aloe, are familiar, but others aren’t so great for you. In the tests, Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($10 for 18 ounces) was noted for doing a good job, and having the fewest chemicals of any lotion tested (just 10), none of which raise health concerns.
What to watch out for
Finding products that are animal-friendly is easy. Simply look for the Leaping Bunny logo (at right). It indicates that a product has not been tested on animals.
But if you want products that are health-friendly, you’ll need to dig deeper. Many chemicals commonly used in personal-care products have been shown to be potentially irritating, or to cause health problems in animal studies. Be aware of the following ingredients in some lotions, especially if you have sensitive skin.
• DIAZOLIDINYL UREA or DMDM HYDANTOIN—these preservatives have raised health concerns in Europe.Moisturizing tips from a top dermatologist
• DIETHANOLAMINE or TRIETHANOLAMINE—some animal studies suggest a link between those ingredients and cancer. Look for “DEA” or “TEA” abbreviations on labels.
• FRAGRANCE or FARNESOL—these chemicals can irritate sensitive skin.
• IODOPROPYNYL BUTYLCARBAMATE—this preservative is not allowed in body lotions in Europe.
• PARABENS—these are used as preservatives, but there are concerns about their potential to mimic estrogen and disrupt the body’s hormones. They might be listed as “methyl-,” “ethyl-,” “propyl-,” or “butyl-parabens.”
• RETINYL PALMITATE—this chemical has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer in animal studies. As a precaution, pregnant women might want to avoid it.
• TITANIUM DIOXIDE—this and other nano minerals have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems in animal studies.
Dermatologist, Amy Newburger, M.D., from St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City advises that the best time of day to moisturize is right after your shower or bath so you can lock in the most moisture. Dr. Newburger also notes that older adults need more moisturizer because it can take much more time for older adults to produce new skin, compared with younger adults.
If your skin is extra dry, Dr. Newburger says: Look for moisturizers that contain glycerin, ceramides, triglycerides, or sterols in the ingredient lists.
If you have sensitive skin, she notes that fragrance is the number one cause of irritation, followed closely by potentially irritating preservatives like sorbic acid, citric acid, benzyl alcohol, and parabens (See above.)
Personal care products: Green buying guide. 12/10
Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.