It is about time we understand the various chemicals used in our skincare product labels.
There are several products in the market today. We are spoilt for choices, however little do we know or understand the ingredients used in our products. There are some chemicals that are allergens eg. preservatives and fragrances, whereas some are carcinogens like formaldehydes and mineral oils and yet others that are endocrine distruptors eg. BPA, dioxin, phthalates etc. Let us look at a few ingredients here.
PARABENS these are used as preservatives to prevent bacteria , mold and yeast in our skin care range. Now how are they bad ? Well the sad part is that these possess estrogen mimicking properties that are associated with breast cancer. These can be found in makeup, face washes, deodrants , shower gels and shampoos.
TRICLOSAN is considered as antibacterial and used in tooth pastes, hand washes, eye shadows, moisturizers. This chemical gets absorbed within our skin and interferes with hormonal systems. It is hence called endocrine disruptive chemical, it is also related to asthama and allergy. It is banned in many countries. Sadly, it is still used in our country.
SUN SCREENS These contain chemicals that like to aborb the UV rays of the sun. These chemicals are easily absorbed by the body and are believed to be endocrine disruptors. Many of these may cause cancer, some of the common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate.
PROPYLYENE GLYCOL is a skin conditioning agent. It leads to sensitization even when used in a small proportion. It is classified as a skin penetrator and a irritant. It is widely used in moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays.
SYNTHETIC COLORS These synthetic colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen a skin irritant . The so called natural Mica that are used in soap making as a natural coulourant are mica powder couloured in labs. Natural mica is usually an off-white mineral and can have brownish tones. To achieve a bright color, pigment is applied to the mica substrate using heat. Micas can be colored using various dyes and pigments to achieve the desired color. These colors are lab-made and are not natural. They are often made to be nature-identical.
FRAGRANCES These are usually chemicals that a company doesnt always display. But as the consumer one could be putting on a concoction that contains tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your health and a major cause of allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. It can be found in many products such as perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturizers.
FORMALDEHYDE and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP’s) preservatives are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was deemed as a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) and has been linked to occupational related cancers: nasal and nasopharyngeal. It is known to cause allergic skin reactions and it may also be harmful to the immune system. It can be found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, nail polish treatments.
PHTHALATES A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. It is used in cosmetics and personal care products as dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of Breast Cancer Unfortunately, it is not disclosed on every product as it’s added to fragrances. They can be found in deodorants, perfumes/colognes, hair sprays and moisturizers.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE(SLS) / SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES). This surfactant can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products (think foaming products). SLS’s are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. They can be found in shampoo, body wash/cleanser, mascara and acne treatment.
SILICONES Like plastic wrap, silicones form a barrier on top of your skin. That barrier can lock in moisture, yes, but it can also trap dirt, sweat, bacteria, sebum, dead skin cells and other debris along with it ! These are used in several skin and hair care formulations.
SO HOW CAN WE SAFE
Use natural products that are made from simple ingredients that are earth friendly.
Appreciate products using natural colourants found in herbs and clays rather then being attracted to colourful chemicals in your products.
Ensure your sunscreen is made using non nano zinc oxide. These particles do not get absorbed by your skin.
Leave fragrances behind, natural health and beauty products smell like their natural ingredients, not a cocktail of chemicals. Natural health and beauty products scented with natural essential oils can even provide aromatherapy.
Natural health and beauty products use natural preservatives, that won’t affect your body. And while some people have allergies to a few natural ingredients (lanolin, which comes from wool or nuts is an allergen for some) the effects are much more understood than the ones from synthetic ingredients. Many natural products work better than their conventional counterparts because they don’t contain unnecessary fillers or irritants. And while some unnatural products may seem to work better with the first try, over the long-term, the harmful chemicals that made your skin feel cleaner or your hair feel smoother may actually cause damage.