Today’s mass-marketed beauty products are laced with harmful chemicals and additives that are absorbed into our bodies through the skin, and poison our environment through wastewater. In an industry that has failed to regulate itself, Submission has chosen to identify these ingredients and avoid them entirely in our products and processes.
We encourage you to learn about these ingredients below and consider eliminating them from your daily beauty regimen. This is a key step towards future beauty.
Palm oil is found in roughly half of consumer packaged goods, from food to cosmetics and personal care products. The oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree, with oil palm plantations covering nearly 70 million acres of land worldwide. The construction of these plantations has contributed to widespread deforestation of rainforests, and is the leading cause of deforestation in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. These rainforests are invaluable to the planet, absorbing pollutive greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and converting them to breathable oxygen, and providing a home for some of the most biodiverse plant and animal communities on earth.
Formaldehyde is used in cosmetics and personal products as a preservative to extend the products’ shelf life, preventing microbes from growing in water-based products. It’s also used in building materials and as an adhesive in furniture production, and can be fatal if ingested. Researchers have linked the absorption of formaldehyde via the skin to severe allergic reactions, leukemia, and the formation of tumors. Check your ingredient labels for these items that may conceal the presence of formaldehyde: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.
Exposure to phthalates has been shown to contribute to diabetes, insulin resistance, decreased male fertility, breast cancer, obesity, metabolic disorders and decreased immune function. The EU has banned more and more phthalates over the last 20 years, and Canada has recently begun to follow suit. The US, however, has failed to declare similar restrictions, likely due to the country’s reliance on the petrochemical plastics industry (phthalates are used in plastics to increase flexibility). Beware the term “fragrance” in ingredients list of your other beauty products, as it can legally be used as a blanket term to describe harmful ingredients including phthalates, and keep an eye of for the following as well: DBP (dibutyl phthalate), DINP (diisononyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate), DMP (dimethyl phthalate), BBP (benzyl butyl phthalate), DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate), DIDP (diisodecyl phthalate).
Sulfates are salts created when sulfuric acid reacts with certain other chemicals. The term covers both SLS and SLES, two similar ingredients that provide lather to both cosmetic products and household cleaners. Natural hand soaps and dish detergents typically produce less foam, due in part to the lack of added sulfates, used to artificially increase the lather that consumers have come to expect from these products. SLS and SLES can cause irritation of the skin, eyes and lungs, especially after prolonged exposure, and producing them can be extremely harmful to the environment, leaching toxic waste into oceans and waterways
The term “fragrance” on a product label can refer to a range of unexpected ingredients, a loophole that is legally exploited by manufacturers. Since the FDA allows the exact components of fragrances to be protected as a proprietary “trade secret,” companies hide harmful and controversial ingredients under this umbrella term. “Fragrance” can encompass up to 100 different chemicals, including those linked to allergies, cancer, birth defects, and infertility.
Parabens are a group of chemicals introduced in the 1920s to reduce biodegradation and prevent the growth of potentially harmful mold and bacteria in beauty products. They have been shown to cause skin irritation and are linked with hormone disruption, fertility and birth complications, and certain cancers. In studies dating back as far as 2006, nearly all urine samples taken from adults in the US, regardless of demographic, detected parabens.
BHT and BHA—not to be confused with beta-hydroxy acid, which is used as an exfoliant—are synthetic antioxidants that are widely used as preservatives in food and cosmetics. Studies have shown that BHT and BHA can cause skin irritation, endocrine disruption, organ-system toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer. BHT and BHA are further examples skincare ingredients that have been banned in the EU, but are still widely used in the US and Canada.
Microplastics are regularly used as an emulsifying agent, filler, or to create a shimmer effect and can be found in eyeshadows, highlighters, lipsticks, glitters, nail polish, foundations, primers, body washes, scrubs and exfoliators, and toothpaste. Directly applying these microplastics to one’s skin can leach harmful chemicals into the body, and when they are washed into our oceans and waterways, we then ingest them in our drinking water and seafood. A 2019 study from the World Wildlife Fund postulated that the average human may consume up to 2,000 microplastics a week.