On a daily bases our skin comes in contact with chemicals from our clothes, moisturisers, makeup, cleansers, deodorant, fragrances, toothpastes and the list goes on. On average, people use up to 10 different skincare or hygiene products a day and as a result, you could be exposed to approximately 130 different chemicals in which they contain.
Our skin is also our largest organ and what we put on it, we absorb. When the products we choose are made from harmful synthetic ingredients, these place a burden on our body systems, particularly the detoxification, immune system and endocrine (hormone) system which in turn affects our health and wellbeing. Some chemicals can be stored in the body for several months or years before they are eliminated and the more you use them, the more concentrate these chemicals become in the body. For this reason when it comes to skincare and the products we use, it is essential that we know exactly what they contain and what we are putting onto our bodies.
Here are the top common chemicals used in beauty and hygiene products to look out for:
Widely used preservatives to prevent fungi, microbes and mould growth in personal care products. Parabens mimic estrogen in the body, which can cause fertility issues. Commonly found in makeup, moisturisers, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers, shaving products, and scrubs.
Used as a solvent, plasticiser and fragrance ingredient. Concerns that it could cause organ damage particularly to the reproductive system. Commonly found in nail polish, hair sprays, perfumes, lotions, soaps and shampoos.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT):
Used as a preservative and fragrance ingredient. Can cause skin irritation and acts as a hormone disruptor. Commonly found in lipsticks, eye shadows and petroleum products.
Used as a foaming agent and to adjust the pH balance of a product. Can cause irritation to the skin and possibly organ toxicity. Commonly found in a variety of make up-and haircare products.
Formaldehyde or DMDM Hydantion:
Used as a preservative. Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic and can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. Commonly found in nail products, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap and color cosmetics.
A chemical combination of a possible 3000 ingredients, used to create scents. Fragrances can trigger skin irritation, an allergic reaction and with long term exposure reproductive toxicity and cell damage. Commonly found in most skincare products.
PEGs (polyethylene glycol):
Used as conditioning and cleaning agent. There are concerns of PEGs being a carcinogenic, cause system toxicity and skin irritation. Commonly found in a variety of skin-care and makeup products
It can be very overwhelming and difficult to completely avoid all chemical additives due to them being so widespread in our everyday products and environments. However, keeping yourself educated is key.
Here are a few tips on how to minimise your toxic exposure from your beauty essentials.
- Look for a short ingredient list and or ingredients you can pronounce or recognise.
- Look for buzz words on the packaging such as 100% natural, organic, 100% biodegradable, paraben free petrochemical free like the Natural Face Wipes by Wotnot.
- Use natural oils as moisturisers such as coconut oil, avocado oil or olive oil which contains natural antioxidants, skin boosting vitamins and nutrients that restore balance to the skin and keep it soft and supple.
- Replace your mouthwash with oil-pulling using coconut oil which acts as a natural antimicrobial.
- Use activated charcoal as a natural teeth whitener or try NUMY’s all natural charcoal based toothpaste.
- Use natural pigments as a blush, eyeshadow or lip colour such as beetroot powder.
- Do your research on the brand. Choosing the right skincare products doesn’t just involve reading the ingredient labels but also understanding how the products are made. Companies that are committed to the health and wellbeing of their customers and the sustainability of the planet will always disclose this information so make keep yourself well informed and don’t be afraid to ask.