8 chemicals often used in skincare products and why you should stay away

It won’t come as a big surprise that many skincare products on the market today are less than clean. But many of us are still unsure which ones we should stay away from at all cost! So we thought we would do a quick run-down of the top 10 chemicals used in skincare products and why you should ditch any products that contain them for good!

 1. Parabens 

This one won’t come as a big surprise as you hear it so often. And yet most brands still use them! Here is why they’re bad:

  1. Studies show that Parabens are absorbed by the skin and make their way to our bloodstream. From there, they tend to stay in our cells and bioaccumulate (pile up if you will)
  2. They disrupt your body’s natural hormone balance by mimicking estrogen in the body. This can lead to serious hormonal imbalances: infertility, pms, acne, breast lumps etc…
  3. More studies are being done on this however current results suggest that there is a strong link between parabens and breast cancer.

 2. Artificial fragrances

This one is tricky because under current legislations, brands can just add “fragrance” to their product labels and do not need to specify whether these are chemical fragrances or essential oils. And you guessed it, more often than not, they’re artificial, because it’s way cheaper.  But why are they bad? Well they cause irritation to the skin and lungs and also make their way into our blood stream.

A recent study looked at 17 brand name fragrance products and uncovered no less than 14 chemicals that are proven to have harmful effects on the human body. It is also worth noting that artificial fragrances are responsible for up to 30% of all allergic reactions and irritations to skincare products.

You are also very likely to become more and more sensitive over the years the more you use artificial fragrances in your products. Some people even develop very severe allergic reactions to these over time and require epi-pens or risk anaphylactic shock. And you might think “ok well they would just buy fragrance free products and they’re fine, no biggie”. But once you develop an allergy to artificial fragrances, you will be likely to get reactions in stores that use perfumes (which is most of them from clothing to beauty or interior design stores), taxis or just the person next to you at the gym spraying their deodorant or hair spray. And when you risk a life threatening reactions just by walking around a store or jumping into a taxi, you understand how life altering that is.

We’re not saying this will happen to everyone who uses artificial fragrances but allergies to these are on the rise and can be very problematic. So best to switch up your skincare routine now!

 

3. SLS (or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)

Sulphates are used in over 90% of shampoos, body and face wash, hand soap. Basically any product that has a big lather. And who doesn’t like a good lather right? Well you won’t like the sound of this:

 Prolonged and repeated use of SLS (who uses a body wash and/or shampoo every day? Hmmm everyone?) has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption. And if that wasn’t bad enough, more recent studies also show that sulphates can have very negative effects on your kidneys and liver (they are the biggest detoxifying organs after your skin so it’s no wonder they get tired having to clean all of that up).

 

4. Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol, also known as PG), is found in many liquid skincare products: from face creams, to serums and lotions. But those are not the only products they are found in: PG’s are also found in antifreeze, brake fluid, and paints… Just what you want on your skin and in your body right?

It’s used as a moisturising ingredient however more studies now show that they actually deplete the skin’s moisture levels with continuous use. So the more you use it, the more you need it, and the worse your skin keeps on getting. And guess what? In the meantime, you feel that your skin really needs more moisture so you keep on buying more and more products and spending more and more money. Your skin essential becomes a junky!

 So PG’s out right?

5.  Petroleum & Mineral Oils (Petrochemicals)

Used in many skincare products (without naming the brand, you know that little blue tub of clear balm that you lather all over your lips…?), petrochemicals have been linked to major health concerns and are contaminated with dozens of toxic chemicals, many of which have been shown to cause cancer and damage nerves. As many as 22% of beauty products contain toxic levels of these harmful chemicals.

Petroleum can also penetrate the skin, causing further health hazards. A 2009 study even showed that using mineral oil products has the potential to increase the rate of tumour growth. 

6. Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of chemicals often used in shampoos, creams, and moisturisers. Several studies show links between the use of products containing phthalates and male and female reproductive defects, asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, and even diabetes.

The main issue with phthalates is that it is listed in the ingredient list simply as “fragrance”, making it virtually impossible for customers to tell which products contain them. The best way to avoid phthalates is to buy your skincare products from high-integrity beauty brands such as ourselves.

7. Benzophenone

Benzophenone are used in personal care products to protect from UV light and can be found in: lip balm, foundations, shampoos, conditioners, hair spray, moisturisers and adult as well as kid and baby sunscreen.. Derivatives of benzophenone, such as benzophenone-2 (BP2) and oxybenzone (benzophenone-3 or BP3) are common ingredients in sunscreen. Benzophenone is persistent, bio-accumulative and highly toxic.

The use of benzophenone has been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity and developmental as well as reproductive toxicity.

8. Lead and heavy metals

Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminium, zinc, chromium and iron are found in many skincare products including: lipstick, whitening toothpaste, eyeliner, lip balms, concealer, foundation and sunscreen.  Exposure to metals has been linked to health concerns including reproductive, immune and nervous system toxicity.

One of the common beauty products that contains the highest amount of heavy metals are lipsticks and it also happens to be the one product you ingest in very large amount as it’s applied directly on your lips. That’s not to say that all lipsticks contain them, some clean makeup brands are coming out with more and more fabulous shades. But the vast majority of lipsticks available on the market today do contain very large amounts.

As a little experiment at home, take a piece of aluminium foil, and make a little smudge with one of your lipsticks on the foil. Now take a piece of tissue paper, and simply rub the lipstick on the foil like you’re trying to wipe it off… Chances are your jaw just dropped when you looked at the colour on your tissue paper. Black… that’s right black all over! The petrochemicals in the lipstick have a chemical reaction with the aluminium and that is the result. Scary right?

 Some recent studies are even looking into the link between lipstick use and the higher rate of dementia and age related brain diseases in women such as Alzheimer.

With all these dangerous chemicals in every day products, many of us are left to wonder why so many brands still use them in their products. And the answer? Because we keep on buying them. Although a little backwards, consumers have all the power. If they keep on buying these products, well guess what? They brands will keep on making them and coming up with new formulas. If on the other hand, we as consumers, make better purchases, these brands will get the message and change their ways.

 

We did not write this article for scare mongering or to shame anyone who chooses to keep purchasing products that contain these chemicals. Simply to inform and hopefully lead readers such as yourself to make informed decisions when buying their skincare products.

So please take care of yourselves, read the labels and send the skincare industry a message: “we don’t want all this crap in our products and in our body thanks!”. 

Thanks for reading!