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Toxic Ingredients To Avoid

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Unfortunately there is an extensive list of ingredients that are used in main stream cosmetics that are simply unsafe. I cannot possibly list them all, so here is a list of the most common ones you should avoid:

Parabens:

What Is It Used For:  

Used as preservatives to prevent the growth of mould and bacteria in our products. While I agree preservatives are a must when water or water based ingredients are used, there are naturally derived preservatives which do the same job and are approved for use in organic certified products. 

What To Look For On The Label:  

  • Ingredients beginning with ethyl, methyl, butyl and propyl

Possible Side Effects:  

  • Respiratory irritation (asthma)

  • Allergy and skin irritation

  • Forms carcinogens

 

Phthalates:

What Is It Used For:  

Used to make plastics more flexible. Commonly found in hairspray, nail polish, and perfume. Phthalates are not mandatory to be listed on labels as part of artificial fragrance ingredients. 

What To Look For On The Label:  

  • Phthalate

  • DEP (diethylphthalates)

  • DBP (dibutylphthalates) (this ingredient has been banned in the EU)

  • DMP (dimethylphthalates)

  • Fragrance

Possible Side Effects:  

  • Hormone disruptor 

  • Organ and system toxicity

  • Prenatal exposure linked to decreased male fertility and ADHD

  • Stimulation of prostate cancer cells

  • Heart disease

 

Sodium Laurel Sulfate: (SLS)

What Is It Used For: 

Used an an emulsifier and foaming agent to give a product a lathering effect. Most commonly found in shampoo, body washes, facial cleanser, bubble bath, toothpaste, dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents.

What to Look For On The Label:  

  • Sodium dodecyl sulfate

  • Sulfuric acid

  • Sodium salt

  • Monododecyl ester

Possible Side Effects:

  • Irritation of the skin and eyes

  • Organ toxicity

  • Developmental/reproductive toxicity

  • Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes

  • Possible mutations and cancer

 

Propylene Glycol:

What Is It Used For: 

Propylene glycol, enhances penetration of other ingredients and acts as a "moisturiser" to the skin. It is also used in industrial and commercial products including anti-freeze. I should note that there is now a natural form of propylene glycol which is plant based and sustainable. 

What To Look For On The Label:

Petroleum based propylene glycol will be listed as follows:

  • Propylene glycol

  • Propanediol

  • 1,3-propanediol

Possible Side Effects:

  • Organ system toxicity

  • Skin irritant - redness, itching, burning

  • Nausea

  • Coughing

  • Wheezing 

 

Formaldehyde:

What Is It Used For:  

Formaldehyde is a colourless, strong-smelling gas used in a wide range of industries and products including building materials, walls, cabinets furniture and personal care . You will find it in baby shampoo, nail polish, eye lash glue, hair gel, body wash and makeup.

Banned from use in cosmetics and toiletries in Japan and Sweden; in the EU, restricted in personal care products, and labelling is required in products that do contain these chemicals. Concentration restrictions in Canada. The EU allows the use of Quaternium-15 up to 0.2% as a preservative in cosmetic products.

What To Look For On The Label:  

  • Formaldehyde

  • quaternium-15

  • DMDM hydantoin

  • Imidazolidinyl urea

  • Diazolidinyl urea

  • Polyoxymethylene urea

  • sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1

  • 3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal

Tips: 

  • Choose nail products that are labeled formaldehyde-free or at least "3 free" (formaldehyde, toluene and DBP). 

  • Stay clear or hair straightening treatments from hairdressing salons.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Cancer

  • Irritation

 

Triclosan:

What Is It Used For:  

Is used to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It is added to bacterial soaps, body washes, deodorants toothpaste.

What To Look For On The Label:

  • Triclosan (TSC)

  • Triclocarban (TCC)

Possible Side Effects:

  • Endocrine disruption (can interfere with your hormone system) Causing;

  • Cancerous tumors 

  • Birth defects

  • Other developmental disorders

 Synthetic Colours:

What Is It Used For:

Used to provide the colour in cosmetics such as lipsticks and glosses, eyeshadows, blushes etc. These colours are derived from petroleum or coal tar. It is banned in the EU

What To Look For On The Label:

    • FD&C ( the F represents food ) it will then be followed by a colour and number eg, FD&C Blue 1.

    • D&C ( the D&C represents drugs and cosmetics) it will then be followed by a colour and number eg, D&C Red 27.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Carinogenic

  • Skin irritant

  • Linked to ADHD

 

 Sunscreen Chemicals:

What Is It Used For:

These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light.

What To Look Out For On The Label:

  • Benzophenone

  • PABA,

  • Avobenzone,

  • Homosalate

  • Ethoxycinnmate.

  • Octyl methoxycinnamate

  • Oxybenzone

  • Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane

  • Octylcrylene

  • Octinoxate

  • Octisalate

Possible Side Effects:

  • Hormone disruptors

  • Early puberty

  • Low fertility

  • Breast and prostate cancer

  • Allergies

  • Photosensitivity 

  • Skin Irritation

  • Creates free radicals which can damage DNA

 

Synthetic Fragrance:

What Is It Used For:

No skin benefit, simply the smell it gives to a product. Found in perfume and skin care products to create a pleasant odour. It can take over 200 chemicals to achieve a pleasant fragrance.

What To Look For On The Label:

  • Fragrance +/- number

  • Parfum +/- number

Possible Side Effects:

  • Forms carcinogens

  • Allergy and irritation

  • Photosensitivity

  • Nausea

  • Headaches

 

Talc:

What Is It Used For:

Talc is found in baby powder, body and shower products, lotions, feminine hygiene products, eyeshadow, foundation, lipstick, deodorants and face masks. It is added to absorb moisture and to soften or smooth a product. Talc is restricted in the EU.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Cancer

  • Organ System Toxicity

  • irritation

 

As mentioned the above is by no means an extensive list, which is very unsettling and certainly overwhelming . I urge everyone to start becoming more aware of the ingredients on the products you are picking up.

 

Article written by Leah Jade

 

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