This week I wanted to write an informative post on what toxic ingredients to avoid in beauty products as I have a real interest in this. There are so many products on the market that are packed full of unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients, alot of us have become more aware of these hidden ingredients and many of us are taking the time to actually read the label thoroughly before buying.
Over the last few years I have been alot more stricter with ingredient labels and have tried to avoid as best I can the products that have those hidden ‘nasties’ in them however, it can be extremely difficult to actually know what toxic ingredients to look out for and the names listed for ingredients can be very confusing and time consuming to research. So I have put together a simpler list of 10 toxic ingredients to avoid. Obviously there are going to be some more ingredients that I haven’t covered however, this will be a handy beginners guide for making ingredient list examinations that little bit easier. If you want to ensure that you are buying beneficial and good products then I’m positive you will find this an interesting read as by the end you will know the main toxic ingredients to watch out for and avoid.
A Little Extra Note – It’s not always just a specific ingredient that makes it toxic but, when you consider the daily use of applying a variety of products that contain the same toxic ingredients it’s the overall amount that becomes unsafe.
- PARABENS – I’m mentioning this toxic ingredient first as I’m sure most people have heard of these preservatives, they have been known for a while now so alot of us already know that they aren’t ever found on a ingredient nice list. Alot of companies promote their products as being ‘paraben-free’ so you’ve probably come across a fair few products that have this information on it’s packaging, companies doing this is such a great way to reassure and easily help out customers. The problem with Parabens is that they mimic oestrogen and there have been studies that show parabens found in human breast tissue. Parabens to look out for are names like; Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben. They are also a main issue as they can be found in nearly anything, so if you find a product that doesn’t state being ‘paraben-free’ then I would definitely inspect the ingredients list.
- FRAGRANCE – Another well known ingredient is fragrance which may also be named; Parfum, Perfume. The main function of this is to make the product smell appealing (obviously) so alot of companies use this in many of their products from deodorants to mascaras to lotions and many more. The blends are usually made up from a cocktail of toxic chemicals that are linked with neurotoxicity and hormone disruption aswell as respiratory, skin and eye irritation. It’s very concerning when you hear that overusing synthetic fragrances in our homes and work environments can make our surroundings more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the most industrialised cities! For people with skin conditions and sensitive skin, products that include synthetic fragrance can cause alot of discomfort and can irritate the skin and with fragrance added to ALOT of products I can totally see how this can be discouraging and overwhelming. But even if you don’t have any skin conditions or sensitivity then it’s still wise to avoid this unnecessary ingredient where you can.
- SLS & SLES – I have alot of personal experience with this ingredient as I used to suffer from a dry and irritated scalp and as soon as I stopped purchasing products with this ingredient in I had instantly soothed my scalp issue. SLS or SLES can be found named as; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate. This is a cheap additive that leaves you with that ‘squeaky clean’ feeling, basically if it bubbles into a visually pleasing foamy lather you can bet this ingredient is included. They are known to cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. We really don’t need this ingredient added to a formula as our skin doesn’t even need to be stripped daily by these so called ‘cleaning’ suds. The truth is by using this daily we actually weaken our skin’s resilience and damage the natural protective barrier function which keeps us safe by protecting from bacterial invaders.
- PHTHALATES – These are usually listed in the same place as Parabens and again alot of Phthalates have been removed from alot of personal care products but it’s still good to keep and eye out for it anyway. On the label they will be named; Dibutyl, Diethylhexyl, Diethyl Phthalates. They are used to help fragrance adhere to your skin and also to create a specific product texture. However, Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and connected with birth defects.
- CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS – These can be found named as; Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone, Homosalate, Benzophenone. The main purpose is to protect from the sun but not all SPF is created equally. These are known as ‘chemical’ ingredients which are known skin irritants and hormone disruptors. Some of these sunscreen ingredients have been also known to harm our environment and cause damage to the oceans by destroying our beautiful coral reefs. There have been studies done that estimate a massive 14,000 tons of sunscreen gather in the oceans globally each year! So not only can this harm ourselves but it also has a devastating impact on the world around us. Instead you can opt for a mineral sunscreen which will have SPF’s like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.
- MINERAL OIL & PETROLEUM-DERIVED INGREDIENTS – Mineral oils and Petroleum jelly are not only bad for the environment but they can be very clogging and heavy moisturisers that block proper detoxification of the skin. They actually form a tight barrier on the top that can cause more acne in acne-prone skin. You may find mineral oil in alot of products as companies like the fact that it won’t cause an allergic reaction but despite this fact it still doesn’t bring many benefits to the skin.
- ALUMINIUM-BASED ANTIPERSPIRANT – In alot of antiperspirant formulas you will find chemicals like; Aluminium Chlorohydrate and Aluminium Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly. This is because these chemicals literally plug up your sweat ducts so that you won’t perspire which means that they work extremely well. But is this really good for us? Have you considered that sweating is a natural and important function for our bodies, it helps us to regulate our body temperature, gets rid of toxins and in turn keeps us healthy. That does’t mean that I’m saying to chuck away your antiperspirants and fully embrace your sweat as it isn’t seen as the most hygienic thing. Alternatively why not try out a natural deodorant, they don’t work in the same way as the chemical based ones but instead they control body odour by killing the stink-causing bacteria with plant compounds and for the sweat ‘wetness’ they use natural ingredients to absorb it like; Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch.
- TRICLOSAN – This ingredient is mostly found in hand soaps, toothpaste and laundry detergent. There is an ongoing debate about the safety of Triclosan and professionals don’t know for certain the harmful effects however, there is some research that it may disrupt hormones and could potentially encourage growth of drug resistant bacteria. The known con of this ingredient is that is has been found to collect in streams and lakes which isn’t a good sign environmentally.
- HYDROQUINONE – Used to lighten skin and fade hyperpigmentation is this ingredient Hydroquinone. However, the risks outweigh the benefits by far. This ingredient has already been banned in; the European Union, Japan and Australia as it has raised concerns around organ toxicity, cancer and skin and eye irritations. In some rare cases it can even cause a blue-black skin colour pigmentation called Ochronosis when it has been used for an increased length of time via an over the counter formula. I would recommend a safer option for brightening hyper-pigmentation using plant based ingredients instead like; Kojic Acid, Mulberry, Bearberry, White Truffle, Liquorice, Ferulic Acid and Carrot Seed Oil.
- TOULENE – You can find this ingredient mostly in hair dyes and nail polishes. People who use this usually report uncomfortable symptoms like headaches, dizziness and skin irritation. Women who are pregnant and children should avoid this ingredient altogether aswell as people with auto-immune disorders. When people are exposed to this toxic ingredient over a lifetime like a hair stylist or nail technician it can be especially harmful. On the market there are some hair dyes and nail polishes that state that they haven’t got Toulene in the formula so it’s worth shopping around for a Toulene free product.