7 Deadly Beauty Product Ingredients

Published on: 24 Feb 2017

Calling out to all you makeup lovers out there: do an early spring cleaning session of your makeup bags. More importantly, if until now you have not been doing so, start reading labels on the beauty products you purchase! Here is a list of 7 most common toxic chemicals found in beauty products to look out for.

Sodium lauryl sulphate (found in shampoo, body wash, foundation, face wash, mouthwash and toothpaste)

What is it: commonly known as SLS, this cheap and widely used chemical works in a way that enables a better interaction between the product and your body/face/hair/teeth, as the lather, which is created in the process, helps the product become more effective.

Because of the said effectiveness and low price, SLS is used in a wide variety of industrial cleaning agents, for example, industrial strength detergents or engine degreaser. Furthermore, SLS is used as a skin irritant in order to test products that are made to heal various skin conditions.

Why you should avoid it: as can be imagined, this chemical is rather strong: just 0.5% of it can cause skin irritation and 10-30% can lead to severe irritation and even skin corrosion. Aside from having a negative effect on skin, SLS can also cause hormonal imbalance, since, after it becomes absorbed into the body, it begins imitating hormone Oestrogen. That, in turn, may result in something as “mild” as PMS and Menopausal symptoms or as serious as a lowered male fertility as well as an increase of female cancers, such as breast cancer.

Alternatives: When buying shampoos, toothpastes or any other product named in the list above, it is best to pick the ones marked as “SLS free.” Better yet, look for products made with essential oils.

Parabens (found in makeup, moisturiser, shaving gel, shampoo, spray tan products, etc.)

What is it: the purpose of these infamous chemicals is to preserve cosmetic and pharmaceutical products along with foods and beverages.

Why you should avoid it: continual exposure to parabens can put a serious strain on our bodies and induce a number of health problems. Much like SLS, parabens can cause hormonal disruption leading to a heighten risk of breast cancer and reproductive issues. In addition, scientists also link these chemicals to miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects, obesity, metabolic disease and bone density.

Alternatives: among the paraben-free preservatives like Phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, Neolone, OptiphenPlus, Hydantoin, Glycacil, Natrulon and benzethonium chloride are harmless; therefore it is best to use products which contain them (look for paraben-free products). In addition, you can switch to using herbal products.

Oxybenzone (found in sunscreen)

What is it: along with other active ingredients, this chemical has been widely used in sunscreens for quite a while now, as it works in protecting the skin from the harmful effects of UV’s rays.

Why you should avoid it: this chemical puts you at a higher risk of cell damage, hormonal imbalance and, ironically, even skin cancer. Studies done on animals show that oxybenzone negatively affects sperm count. As for females–they become more likely to acquire endometriosis (when a tissue lining the uterus grows outside it, resulting in pelvic pain, painful bowel movement or urination and infertility). What is more, since the chemical is absorbed into the skin, traces of it are found in urine and, most importantly, breast milk; therefore exposing the newborns as well as the developing fetuses to the possible harmful effects.

Alternatives: as in most cases, it is better to go au naturel. To protect your skin from sun damage, opt for either carrot seed, red raspberry seed or coconut oils. Another option is to change your dietary habits: try to add more fruits, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids to your daily menu, as they share anti-inflammatory qualities.

BHA (found in exfoliants and perfume)

What is it: BHA, or butylated hydroxyanisole, is an antioxidant, preventing the products from slow deterioration due to exposure to oxygen.

Why you should avoid it: the main concern regarding this chemical is its carcinogenic qualities. Studies done on animals state that BHA causes benign as well as malignant stomach tumors together with liver damage. Also, the European Commission of Endocrine Disruption, has noted that BHA interferes with hormonal function.

Alternatives: in this case what you can do is to look at product labels and avoid the ones that contain BHA.

Polyethylene Glycols/PEGs (found in scrubs, body wash, makeup, toothpaste)

What is it: PEGs are petroleum-based chemicals that are used in cosmetics as thickeners, softeners, solvents and moisture carriers. In pharmaceuticals, these chemicals are used as laxatives.

Why you should avoid it: unfortunately, PEGs contain a certain impurity (ethylene oxide), which is a known human carcinogen. This ingredient is extremely harmful, even in small amounts. Yet the said impurity is not the only toxic component: PEGs are often contaminated with dioxane, polycyclic aromatics compounds and heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead, nickel, iron, etc. This, in turn, not only damages the skin, but neutralizes the defense mechanisms of the skin against antimicrobials. By letting such pollutants enter the body, people become exposed to a variety of issues related to chemical contamination.

Aside from that, PEGs can induce contact dermatitis together and make the skin prone to rash. What is more, these chemicals deprive the skin of its natural moisture, thus damaging it.

Alternatives: a good alternative to PEGs are natural glycols, as they work as both emulsifiers and moisturizers. Therefore, when checking labels, look for vegetable glycerin. However, if you do end up using products that contain PEGs, at least make sure that the products belong to a respected brand, as they are less likely to use PEGs that are contaminated.

Retinol Products (found in moisturizers, lip products, sunscreen and anti-aging products)

What is it: retinols are a strong form of synthetic vitamin A that are used as conditioners and anti-acne agents.

Why you should avoid it: when exposed to sunlight, retinols might increase the risk of skin cancer. Apart from this, if the daily dosage excels 10000 international units, can become toxic and cause developmental as well as reproductive issues.

Alternatives: it will come as no surprise that, as in most cases, it is best to stick to natural products. Among such are: bakuchiol, sytenol A, retinopeptide 189, moth bean extract, x-pressin, E24 complex. Also, consider ingredients like lycopene, rosehip seed oil, black elder, vitamin B3and squalene.

Petroleum distillates (found in mascara, frangrance, lip balm, concealer, foundation, eye liner, eyeshadow, moisturizer)

What is it: this colorless liquid is used to dissolve other substances (mostly other liquids) in cosmetic products.

Why you should avoid it: these chemicals are known to increase the risk of a disease, which symptoms are similar to those of systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma: chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorders, affecting connective tissues. Among other dangers of these chemicals are cardiovascular, blood, neuro and respiratory issues. Petroleum distillates can also cause skin’s sensitivity to light as well as irritation. Lastly, the petroleum-based products are associated with cancer.

Alternatives: the simplest way of avoiding these harmful effects is to buy products that contain all-natural, organic ingredients.


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