Many of us use cosmetics daily to enhance our appearance and boost our confidence. However, overusing cosmetics can have negative effects on our skin. From clogged pores to premature ageing, here are some of the dangers of overusing cosmetics:
- Clogged pores: when we apply cosmetics, we create a barrier between our skin and the environment. While this helps protect the skin from damage, it also traps dirt, oil, and dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Over time, this leads to clogged pores, which can cause acne and other skin blemishes.
- Premature ageing: ironically many cosmetics contain chemicals that damage the skin over time, leading to premature ageing. For example, frequent use of products that contain beta-hydroxy acids can cause the skin to become thin and fragile, making it more susceptible to wrinkles and fine lines.
- Skin irritation: some cosmetics contain ingredients that can irritate the skin, especially if they are used excessively. Fragrances, dyes, and preservatives can all cause skin irritation and allergic reactions, leading to redness, itching, and discomfort.
- Disruption of the skin's natural balance: our skin has a delicate balance of oils, bacteria, and other substances that help keep it healthy and protected, known as the biome. Overuse of cosmetics can disrupt this balance, leading to skin problems. The frequent use of harsh cleansers strips the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. It also upsets the natural pH of the skin, which can allow undesirable bacteria (like C. acnes for example) to thrive causing further problems.
- Increased risk of cancer: many cosmetics contain ingredients that can increase the risk of cancer. For example, some makeup products contain talc, which has been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer when applied to the genital area (this is because talc is often contaminated with asbestos as these two minerals are mined together, so look for talc-free options). Additionally, some sunscreens contain oxybenzone, which can penetrate the skin and disrupt hormonal balance, potentially increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Here are some of the most dangerous ingredients to look out for and avoid
- Parabens: these are a group of preservatives that are commonly found in skincare products, and used to prevent bacteria and mould growth. However, studies have shown that parabens can mimic oestrogen in the body and disrupt hormonal balance. They have also been found in breast cancer tumours, although it is still unclear whether they are a cause of, or a result of, the cancer. Parabens also disrupt the delicate balance of the skin’s biome. As the biome functions to protect the skin, a disruption of the biome can cause inflammation and accelerated ageing of the skin (inflammageing).
- Phthalates: these are a group of chemicals that are used to make plastics more flexible, and they are also found in many skincare products as a fragrance ingredient. Phthalates have been linked to developmental and reproductive problems, and they can also disrupt hormonal balance.
- Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS): this is a foaming agent that is used in many cleansers, shampoos, and body washes. SLS can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin.
- Formaldehyde: this is a preservative that is used in many skincare products, but it is also a known carcinogen. It can cause skin irritation, allergies, and respiratory problems.
- Oxybenzone: this is a chemical sunscreen ingredient that has been linked to hormone disruption, and it can also damage coral reefs when it enters the water supply.
- Triclosan: this is an antibacterial ingredient that is commonly found in soaps and other skincare products. However, it has been linked to hormone disruption, and it can also contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Triclosan also destroys the biome, leading to skin inflammation and accelerated ageing (inflammageing)
- Fragrance: many skincare products contain fragrance as an ingredient, but this can be a problem for those with sensitive skin. Fragrance can cause irritation and allergic reactions, plus it can also contain phthalates and other potentially harmful chemicals.
When choosing skincare products, we recommend you look carefully at the ingredient labels and not only the main active. Avoid products that contain the dangerous ingredients named above. Rather opt for skincare products that use natural ingredients or safer alternatives instead. These are used in place of some of the potentially iffy chemicals listed above. Here are a few examples:
- Preservatives: instead of selecting products with parabens (which are used as preservatives) some alternatives to look for include phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate.
- Surfactants: instead of products with sulphates like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate (commonly used as surfactants in shampoos and body washes) try some alternatives like decyl glucoside, cocamidopropyl betaine, and sodium cocoamphoacetate.
- Fragrances: synthetic fragrances can contain phthalates. Alternatives would include using essential oils and naturally-derived fragrance compounds.
- UV filters: products using chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone and octinoxate could be swapped for physical sunscreens such as those containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
- Emollients: mineral oil and petrolatum are commonly used as emollients in skincare products, but safer alternatives include plant-based oils like jojoba oil, argan oil, and coconut oil.
One of the most exciting developments in recent decades has been the development of methods to produce the body’s immune molecule, called hypochlorous acid. The application of “immune therapy” to treat the skin holds fantastic benefits for the skin. A pharmaceutical-grade hypochlorous acid, like that found in our Skin Series, promotes a reversal of ageing, restoring the skin’s function and beauty. Our Skin Series also minimises chronic inflammation and its consequences for the skin. Make sure to use a good quality product, as many other products contain toxins.
In conclusion, we encourage you to become aware of the potentially dangerous ingredients that may be in your skincare products by carefully reading the labels. It's important to note that not all natural ingredients are safe, and not all synthetic ingredients are harmful. It's also important to consider the overall safety profile of a product, including its formulation and intended use, rather than focusing solely on individual ingredients. Discuss any new product recommendations with your skin therapist before committing. By selecting products that are free of these harmful ingredients, you can enjoy healthy, glowing skin without putting yourselves or the planet at risk.