We have all become really good at checking the labels on the food products we buy. We make sure that we avoid certain ingredients, those that we have been told are bad for our health or those that could potentially even cause cancer. If we have food intolerances we are extra vigilant in checking for hidden gluten or lactose. For those with allergies, it's even more important to make sure there are no nuts, or shellfish or their derivatives in the products we buy to eat.
But are we all as careful with our skincare products?
There has been a post on social media doing the rounds in the last few months about the severe reaction one woman’s daughter had to makeup removing wipes sold by a very well known international skincare brand. The wipes caused severe skin reactions on several people. When you see a post or story like that does it cause you to pause and think – “do I really know what’s in that product I use on my face or body”? Well, it certainly does that for me.
According to the Environmental Working Group the average adult uses 9 personal care products per day with 126 unique ingredients. One in 13 women and one in 23 men are exposed to cancer-forming ingredients in their personal care products on a daily basis. One in 5 adults are exposed to 7 of the worst carcinogens on a daily basis, all occurring in their cosmetics. The average woman uses 12 products daily, containing 168 ingredients. The average man uses six products daily, containing a total of 85 ingredients.
So, do you really know what's in your skincare products? Do you know what to look for and what to stay away from?
Unfortunately, the regulations around skincare products and cosmetics are less vigorous than those in place for our food. Companies can basically include any ingredient in their products and put it on the shelf – there is no pre-approval process.
Here is a list of 10 ingredients that you should avoid in your cosmetic products at all costs. These items cause a chemical assault on the skin. Many of these ingredients are synthetic chemicals meaning they can be skin irritants at best and because they are also potentially skin penetrators they have the potential to disrupt your endocrine system and at worst are cancer causing.
Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent products from being degraded by micro-organisms. Even though this might sound like a positive thing, it’s not. Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. They are found in virtually all cosmetic products, unfortunately. You should avoid cosmetics that contain Parabens at all costs
Ever noticed FD&C or D&C as ingredients in your products? They represent artificial colours. “F” representing food and “D&C” representing drug and cosmetics. These letters precede a colour and number (e.g. D&C Red 14). These synthetic colours are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colours are not only skin irritants but are linked to ADHD in children and are carcinogenic in humans. These are banned now in most food but still find their way into cosmetics.
The term fragrance is an ambiguous one that can literally mean anything. Fragrances have been associated with allergies and dermatitis.
This ingredient is normally used to increase the flexibility and softness of plastic. This is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in both males and females.
Triclosan is a preservative chemical that is another known endocrine disruptor, especially of the thyroid and reproductive hormones. It is also a skin irritant. Studies have raised concerns that the over-use of Triclosan is contributing to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Triclosan can be found in toothpaste, antibacterial soaps and deodorants.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
This surfactant can be found in more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products (think foaming products). SLS’s are known to be skin, lung and eye irritants. A major concern about SLS is its potential to combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen.
Formaldehyde is used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical, however, is a human carcinogen and has been linked to occupation-related cancers. It is known to cause allergic skin reactions.
A petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. It may also be listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is a paint thinner. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin.
Propylene glycol is used as a skin-conditioning agent. However, it is a skin irritant and penetrator, and has been associated with causing dermatitis.
These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent to absorb ultraviolet light. These chemicals are easily absorbed by the body however and are known to be endocrine disruptors. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and Methoxycinnamate.
It is important to understand that these chemicals are a big contributing factor to age in our skins. We recommend you avoid them as much as possible. Happily our products contain none of the above.