Don’t gamble with your beauty products. The skin easily absorbs products we use on it, letting them reach the bloodstream. It’s important to know what ingredients are there in your beauty products before applying them to your skin, because, ironically, they aren’t approved before they hit the shelves. What’s even worse, companies aren’t required to disclose all the ingredients in their products; so, many toxic chemicals remain hidden behind various umbrella terms such as “fragrance”. Here’s what you should pay attention to.
Understanding cosmetic labelling can be confusing for consumers unless they’re chemists. Cosmetic ingredients can be divided into active and inactive. Active ingredients are those that actually carry out an action that is supposed to have beneficial effects. For example, vitamins C and E in anti-aging products or zinc oxide in sunscreens are active ingredients. Inactive ingredients are used as fillers or bulking agents, preservatives, and fragrances. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have any effects on the skin. Some of them are even notoriously linked to skin allergies, respiratory issues, or even cancer.
When it comes to face washes, what you need to stay away from is Sodium lauryl sulfate/Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS/SLES). This ingredient can be found in almost 90% of skincare and household cleaning products. If you like your facial wash bubbly and foamy, this chemical is responsible for that part. Experienced experts from Ultraceuticals warn that SLES, which may contain the carcinogen dioxane, is a frequent compound of acne treatment products. Luckily, there are natural alternatives and even SLS free products. Salicylic and mandelic acids are excellent ingredients for combating acne as they exfoliate and unclog pores, so make sure to select products containing either of them.
Sunscreens are mandatory throughout the year and not just during the summer months. Common active ingredients in sunscreens are oxybenzone and octinoxate which are UV filters with high toxicity according to the . They can cause skin allergies, imitate estrogen in the body, and affect the thyroid gland. Besides that, paraben preservatives commonly used in sunscreens are responsible for hormone disruptions, allergies, and reproductive toxicity. Mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are a better option.
A few years ago, there was growing concern that underarm deodorants and antiperspirants could cause breast cancer due to harmful ingredients. Some researchers believed that deodorants and antiperspirants applied to an area close to the breast could also contribute to the disease. However, the National Cancer Institute couldn’t corroborate these claims. But recently parabens, which are frequently used as preservatives in cosmetic products, have been identified as hazardous chemicals. These estrogen mimickers have been associated with breast cancer. You can avoid them by using natural cosmetic products that don’t have a long shelf life.
Skin brightening and lightening creams are used to even out skin tone. They often contain hydroquinone, notorious for its cytotoxic characteristics, which basically means that this ingredient can kill cells. It’s good to know that this skin bleaching chemical is banned in the European Union. Prevention is the best alternative to using hydroquinone, so protecting your skin from the sun and taking beta-carotene is the first step. In case that you suffer from hyperpigmentation, azelaic acid, kojic acid or malic acid can be used as effective treatment without unpleasant side-effects.
Everybody likes soft hair that smells good and phthalates in your shampoo are responsible for that. Those chemicals, mainly used for making plastic soft and flexible, are common in all kinds of products. They are endocrine disruptors, meaning that they can interfere with the body’s endocrine system and cause numerous tumors or birth defects. Manufacturers manage to “smuggle” phthalates into their products by adding them to fragrances, which means that they don’t have to be listed separately. This means that wherever you see “fragrance” on a label, there’s a strong possibility that phthalates are present in the product.
Although it’s hard to avoid chemicals in cosmetics, there are some beauty products that definitely shouldn’t be in your shopping cart.