Have you ever examined the ingredients listed on the labels of your cosmetics or other skin care products? Do you know what those ingredients are? The chances are that you can't pronounce half of them!
What you may not realise is that many of the skin care products and cosmetics you are buying contain ingredients that are not only harmful to your skin, but also to your long term health. Many of these ingredients are known carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and are used by the cosmetic industry simply because they are cheap!
Harmful Ingredients Commonly Found in Skin Care Products and Cosmetics
The following are just some of the synthetic chemicals that have been identified by scientific studies to be harmful to our health:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)
Often described as being "derived from coconut" to disguise their toxic nature, these chemicals are commonly used in shampoos, toothpaste, foaming facial and body cleansers and bubble bath. SLS and ALS can cause severe skin irritation, and are easily absorbed into the body, building up in the brain, heart, lungs and liver, leading to potential long term health problems. SLS and ALS may also cause cataracts, and prevent children's eyes from developing properly.
Parabens are widely used in cosmetics, deodorants, skin care and baby products to prolong their shelf life. They are known to be highly toxic and have caused rashes and allergic reactions. Recent scientific studies in the UK found a strong link between the use of parabens and the increasing rate of breast cancer in women. Researchers found a high concentration of parabens in 90% of breast tumours tested.
Found in many beauty creams, cosmetics and cleansers, Propylene Glycol can cause skin rashes and contact dermatitis, and has been shown to cause damage to the kidneys and liver.
Alcohol is used as a solvent in many skin care products. It causes skin irritation and strips the skin of its natural acid mantle, promoting the growth of bacteria, moulds and viruses. It may also cause premature ageing of skin.
DEA (Diethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine) and MEA (Monoethanolamine)
These substances are harsh solvents and detergents that are used in cosmetics and face and body creams as an emollient. They can cause allergic reactions, and long term use of DEA-based products (such as Cocamide DEA) have been linked to an increase in the incidence of liver and kidney cancer.
A common ingredient in antiperspirants, aluminium has been linked to Alzheimer's Disease. It also can cause bone disease and digestive illnesses.
Derived from petroleum (crude oil), mineral oil is commonly found as a main ingredient of face and body creams and cosmetics. Baby oil is 100% mineral oil! It coats the skin like a plastic film, clogging pores and stopping the skin from eliminating toxins, which can lead to acne and other skin disorders. Other petroleum based ingredients include paraffin wax, paraffin oil and petrolatum.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
Used as a thickener in skin care products and cosmetics, PEGs interfere with the skin's natural moisture balance, causing an increase in ageing and leaving the skin vulnerable to bacteria.
Talc is a soft mineral used in talcum powders and cosmetic powders. Scientific studies have shown that routine application of talcum powder to the genital area is linked with a three-to-fourfold increase in the development of ovarian cancer. Inhaling cosmetic powders containing talc may also be harmful to long term health.
How To Avoid These Toxins
Examine the labels of your cosmetics and skin care products carefully, and learn to recognise ingredients that are harmful to your skin and to your health. Many web sites have lists of potentially harmful ingredients in addition to those shown above (e.g. Environmental Working Group).
Don't be fooled by the words 'natural' or 'organic' on the front of the label. Many products contain at least one or two natural or organic ingredients, but they may also contain harmful synthetic chemicals as well.
Whenever possible, choose products with 100% natural ingredients such as essential oils and herbs. Your skin will love you for it!