What Are All of These "Toxic Ingredients" in Skincare Products Everyone is So Worried About?

Follain, a Union Market retailer, has the scoop on the chemicals to avoid.

There seem to be more and more “all-natural” beauty supply shops popping up all around Washington: Be Clean, Florescent, and Lather all among them. In May, after three pop-ups at Union Market, Boston-based Follain took up permanent residence in Union Market–the shop’s first non-Massachusetts store.

All of these brands claim to bring non-toxic, natural beauty products to the market–skincare that you can trust isn’t filled with any “bad” chemicals. For DC-native Tara Foley, the founder of Follain, it’s important to be conscientious about what we put on our skin.

“We use dozens of skin products every day,” says Foley. “What goes on us goes in us, and ingredients can effect our health.”

The logic makes sense–it’s generally a good idea to know what’s in something before you smear it all over your face. But unless you’re a trained chemist, that recommendation is easier said than done. If you’ve ever tried reading an ingredient list on a bottle of drug store face wash, you might get a little lost amidst the aminomethyl propanol and the sodium lauroyl sarcosinate.

So how is the average Jane to know whether benzalkonium chloride or methyl cellosolve are safe to use? Must she Google every ingredient to make sure she’s not accidentally absorbing toxins?

Enter Follain’s Safety Pledge. The brand’s webpage not only explains what toxic ingredients are and how they can impact the user’s health, but it also includes a complete list of all the ingredients that they as a company have sworn off of. The list of Restricted Ingredients is sub-divided into hair, face, body, sun, and cosmetic products, and each ingredient listing includes what it is, what it does, why it’s potentially bad, and what kind of products it’s commonly found in.

According to Foley, one of Follain’s main goals is to be “a public health movement to get people to pay attention to the ingredients they’re applying to their skin and the earth,” and through their Restricted Ingredients list, anyone can learn more about the chemicals in beauty products on the market. If nothing else, the list is a pretty nifty tool to educate yourself a bit on your cosmetics–before you powder your nose with them.

Follain is located at Union Market, 500, 598 Neal Pl., NE.

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.