You take great care of your body. You have a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. However, you may be completely oblivious to the toxic and potentially harmful ingredients you’re exposing yourself to. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it’s important to pay as much attention to what you’re putting on it, as you do to what you’re putting in it!
From your shampoo to your nail polish, we’ve compiled a list of 6 beauty ingredients you need to avoid.
Parabens (Butyl, propyl and ethyl)
Parabens are synthetic compounds used as preservatives in many skin and beauty products such as deodorants, toothpastes, moisturisers and more.
Many are wary of parabens thanks to a 2004 report where traces of them were found in breast cancer tissue. This highlighted the ability of parabens to enter your body via the skin, where they have the potential to stay for a long time.
Parabens have been shown to possibly affect hormone balance by mimicking oestrogen, which can lead to breast cell division and the possible growth of tumours.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals which keep plastic from becoming brittle. They can be found in nail polishes, hair sprays and fragrances.
These are similar to parabens in the sense that they are potential endocrine disruptors. Use of these can result in hormonal and reproductive issues, as well as possible birth defects. Sometimes they might not even be listed in the ingredients of products, as they can be included under the term “fragrance”. Speaking of which…
Also known as synthetic or artificial fragrance. One of the problems with this ingredient is how vague it is. The fact that manufacturers can hide thousands of ingredients under this subtitle makes it particularly concerning.
In general, anything described as synthetic or artificial should be a considered a big red flag. You can find fragrance in lots of cosmetic and skincare products as well as household items like scented candles and air fresheners.
You probably already know that this is a big no-no, but just in case you aren’t aware, let’s get into it. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen but it is included in many products due to its preservative properties, as it prevents microbes from growing in water-based products. The ingredient can be found in a whole range of products, including nail polishes and strengtheners, eye lash glues, soaps, make-up, lotions and hair gels.
Formaldehyde can be absorbed through the skin and has been linked to malignant tumours as well as severe allergic reactions. Another caveat is that formaldehyde can be included directly, or in the form of a formaldehyde-releasing preservative so you will need to familiarise yourself with those as well.
Mineral oil is typically used to lock in moisture in many beauty products. It is derived from petroleum and comes in a variety of grades including industrial (lubricants for car engines) to the highly purified cosmetic grade we are referring to right now.
The challenge with mineral oil is that it can be harmful for your skin by clogging your pores and it is also bad for the environment. There has been some assertion that it can potentially contain carcinogenic impurities. You may find it in lipsticks, lip-glosses, concealers and it can also go by the name paraffin.
Sodium Laureth Sulphate
These are detergents that help your products lather and foam – so if your products does this, it probably contains them.
Sulphates tend to strip your skin and/or hair of its natural oils, which can lead to hair breakage as well as inflammatory skin reactions like itchy scalp, eczema and dermatitis. If you have sensitive skin or a skin condition (like rosacea or psoriasis) you are better off avoiding these.