In 2021, hundreds of personal skincare products were found to contain a highly toxic substance known as Benzene. Although a recall has been issued for these products, unfortunately, the beauty industry is still loosely regulated. There are still many products containing substances that are more than suspect.
Brand loyalty and the allure of popular skincare products making the next big promise can often be too attractive to ignore. But at what expense to your health does this mean?
The toxic build-up of hormone-disrupting chemicals and ingredients that are known carcinogens can go unnoticed until much later, and sometimes when it’s far too late. This is why it’s important to know exactly what’s on the label of any product that you expose your body to.
But what should you watch out for when it comes to clean skincare? With greenwashing pervasive throughout the industry, finding natural beauty products that are what they say can be tricky.
Here are five nasty chemicals found in commercial skincare products that will give you enough reason to switch to a clean alternative.
1. Hormone Disrupting Parabens
Parabens are common preservatives that can be found in the majority of beauty products today – from shampoos to face creams and make-up. Examples of parabens include butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.
Due to its widespread use, you might be under the impression that it’s safe to use, but that’s not the case. Parabens can negatively affect hormone levels. Not only are they linked to increasing your risk of breast cancer, but they can also affect your reproductive system.
Clean skincare products should be paraben-free and generally contain safer alternatives like sodium benzoate.
2. Skin Sensitivities From Sulfates
Everyone loves the feel of a foam wash to cleanse away the dirt and oils on the skin. But, sulfates are the main ingredients that make shampoos, face washes, and liquid soap lather.
High concentrations of sulfates can dry the skin and cause allergic skin reactions. It strips the skin’s protective layer, leaving it open to bacterial infections. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any product containing ‘sodium lauryl sulfate’ or ‘SLS’ on the label.
3. Cancer-Causing Dioxane
Dioxane is in toothpaste, shampoo, facial cleansers, and body wash. It’s a chemical derived from ethylene oxide, which is used to make products foamy and creamy. Animal tests have proven that this chemical can cause cancer and is associated with eye, mouth, and throat irritation if inhaled.
People that are most at risk from the effects of dioxane are children, adolescents, and pregnant women.
But be aware that the term dioxane is not usually found on the ingredients label. This is because dioxane is formed from a chemical reaction between ingredients mixed together.
You can however keep an eye out for ingredients like xynol, oleth, and sodium laureth sulfate. Organic certified products are also free from dioxane contamination.
4. Skin Allergies from Fragrances
Fragrances are a broad term for many different chemicals in products that give them an appealing smell. These chemicals can include phthalates which can damage the reproductive system and cause skin allergies like hives.
Phthalates are banned from children’s toys but not from cosmetics or personal care products. Unfortunately, they are known to cause allergic reactions and skin irritation, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
People suffering from asthma are also at risk from the inflammatory effects of fragrances in the air. Even low concentrations can cause a severe asthma reaction.
What about natural fragrances? Keep in mind that both natural and synthetic forms of fragrance can cause allergic reactions. If you want to avoid this ingredient, then look out for essential oils and terms like fragrance, parfum, and perfume on the packaging.
5. Skin Damaging Petroleum
Have you ever seen ingredients like mineral oil, paraffin, petroleum, or petrolatum on the labels of your skincare products? These are all derivatives of petroleum, otherwise known as refined petrol.
It’s a cheap ingredient that’s found in skin moisturizers. Petroleum’s lubricating properties can feel like it’s hydrating the skin, but they’re also a barrier that keeps moisture out and oils trapped. This can block the pores of the skin resulting in acne outbreaks.
Prolonged use of petroleum-containing products can also stop the skin from functioning properly, inhibiting the production of sebum. This then becomes a vicious circle, where your skin can no longer hydrate itself, becoming drier and drier.
Clean Skincare or Natural Skincare? Is There a Difference?
Natural skincare contains ingredients from nature, such as essential oils derived from plants. However, products that are labeled as natural skincare may not be completely natural.
This is due to there being no regulations controlling the use of the term. A product can contain one or two natural ingredients mixed with other non-natural sources and still be labeled as natural. Some companies can abuse this, by labeling their products as natural even though they contain toxic ingredients.
But it’s important to note that not all non-natural ingredients are bad for your health.
This brings us to clean skincare, which are products that have been formulated without any harmful chemicals. Glycerin, a popular humectant found in clean skincare, is a good example of a synthetic ingredient that’s considered natural. There is no difference on a molecular level between the synthetic and naturally derived versions of glycerin.
The main advantage of clean beauty products is that they are formulated to be non-toxic. This reduces the risk of adverse reactions in the body or long-term health conditions.
They can contain ingredients that originate from nature like thermal water, as well as synthetic ingredients. But due to them being clinically proven and toxic-free, they are much safer than conventional skincare products.
Time to Make the Switch Over?
It’s never easy making new habits. But swapping just one item for a clean skincare product can make a huge difference, both for your body and the environment.
The skin is our body’s largest organ and protects us from all kinds of pollutants. However, it only takes 30 seconds for an ingredient to penetrate into the bloodstream. So it’s important to be kind to your body with non-toxic products that put your health first.
If you’re interested in learning about what goes into clean skincare, then visit our page to find out more. Learn how to decode the ingredients list and the beauty of transparency when it comes to skincare products.