Top Ten Chemicals You Want To Avoid In Your Skincare And Personal Care Products
Sadly, when it comes to the important matter of our personal care, we live in an unregulated market. Companies specialising in beauty and personal care have a wide licence when it comes to the ingredients they put in their products and many of them make use of cheap synthetic chemicals to keep production costs down.
Unfortunately, there is a growing body of scientific evidence which indicates these chemicals are bad for us. They have been linked with conditions as diverse and as damaging as infertility, depression, birth defects, asthma, cancer and heart disease.
Clearly, these are all things we would like to avoid, but in the absence of serious government regulation, it is up to us to monitor what we put on our bodies. We need to be aware of those chemicals we should avoid and we need to carefully read the ingredient list on the back of our cosmetic and personal care products before we purchase.
With this in mind, you might find the following list useful. It outlines the synthetic chemicals you most need to avoid when purchasing cosmetics and personal care products for yourself and your family. Steer clear of these ingredients and think organic and natural if you want to achieve a healthier, more youthful looking skin.
Phthalates Found most commonly in cosmetics, hair products, nail polish and deodorants. Phthalates have been linked to birth defects and cancer, and they are known to cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and the reproductive system.
Look out for: DBP (dibutylphthalate), DEP (diethylphthalate) and butyl ester.
Parabens Commonly used preservatives in skincare and other cosmetics (even by some companies who claim to be ‘natural’). Thought to be carcinogenic and linked to breast cancer, in particular.
Look out for: butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methlyparaben, propylparaben
Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate A very common foaming agent used in most shampoos and conditioners as well as soaps, makeup and toothpaste. Also used to clean engines and garage floors. Sometimes disguised in ‘natural’ products as ‘derived from coconut’, these ingredients are not only nasty skin irritants, but can form nitrosamines – a deadly class of carcinogenic – when combined with other chemicals.
Mineral Oil It sounds harmless, but this petroleum by-product clogs the skin, prevents it from breathing and detoxifying naturally, and causes premature aging. It is commonly used in baby oils and can be contaminated with carcinogens that are linked to breast cancer.
Look out for: mineral oil, petroleum, liquid paraffin
Fragrance A deliberately misleading euphemism referring to nearly 4,000 different synthetic ingredients. Found in almost all skincare, shampoos, deodorants, sunscreens, and personal care products, fragrances are allergens which can attack the central nervous system and are known to both cause and trigger asthma attacks.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) PEG’s main function is to dissolve oil and grease and is used in spray-on oven cleaners. You’ll also find it in many hair and skin products. It will strip your skin and hair of protective oils and make them vulnerable to other toxins.
Triclosan A close cousin to Agent Orange and registered as a pesticide by the EPA. It is so toxic it is measured in parts per trillion and yet it is widely used in toothpastes, soaps and antibacterial cleansers. Linked to birth defects, paralysis, heart problems, and brain haemorrhages, to name but a few.
DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine) Commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths and facial cleansers, these chemicals can form cancer-causing agents and are strongly linked to incidences of kidney and liver cancer.
Urea and DMDM Hydanotin.Hydanotin Derivatives of formaldehyde, which is used to preserve dead body parts and which has been classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen. Commonly used in skin, body and hair products, antiperspirants and nail polish. Also linked to allergies, depression, insomnia and asthma.
Look out for: imidazolidnyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, 3-diol diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydanotin, bronopol, and quaternium-15
Propylene Glycol Commonly used in makeup, toothpaste and especially deodorants, propylene glycol is also the active ingredient in antifreeze. Industrial workers are required to wear protective clothing when working with it. Linked to brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.
The above list of harmful chemicals which can be found in your personal care products is significant, but not exhaustive. If you are interested in reading more, then World Organic recommends the Environmental Working Group’s comprehensive ‘Cosmetic Safety Database’ as an excellent reference site – http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com