The long and often intimidating list of ingredients found on the back of our cosmetics (cleansers, moisturisers, foundations) and toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorants, after shave, perfume) can be overwhelming. So I thought we’d start with 5 ingredients.
In trying to navigate their way through this minefield of information the majority of people choose to completely ignore the information provided and opt instead for the cheapest product or prettiest packaging offered. I don’t profess to have cut out all toxins and chemicals in my make up and toiletries but I am becoming more discerning in what I use. Start small in the culling process and progress as your knowledge evolves.
- Eye make-up can be absorbed by your highly sensitive mucous membranes.
- Hair sprays, perfumes and powders can be inhaled, irritating your lungs.
- Lipstick is licked off and swallowed.
- Sunscreen and lotions are absorbed through your skin.
- Shampoo can run into your eyes or your baby’s eyes.
- Laundry detergent, in small amounts, comes in contact with your skin via your clothes.
Putting chemicals on your scalp and your skin may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body. However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs. Dr Mercola.
- When dealing with sales people ask them what the active ingredient (components in a product or drug that provide some pharmaceutical value, in contrast with the inactive ingredients, which act as carriers to make the product or drug easier for the body to process) is. A good salesperson should be able to answer without reading the label.
- Choose your ‘natural’ products with some knowledge. Unfortunately just because products are labelled natural doesn’t make them so. Marketing companies are becoming more and more adept at finding ways to side step the loose regulations of cosmetic and toiletry industry standards.
- Look for products that are fragrance free – one fragrance can contain thousands of chemicals, a major cause of allergic reactions.
- Use the basics, how many products do you need to get through the day – cutting down is a start.
- Manufacturers are required to list ingredients in descending order by volume, meaning the first few ingredients are the most prominent. If argan oil is the last ingredient in a long list, then argan oil is NOT the active ingredient.
PARABENS – may be listed as methyl, propyl, ethyl isobutyl or butyl parabens.They inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast and moulds. Used as a preservative.
Harmful Effects: Studies have shown parabens contribute to higher oestrogen levels in the blood increasing the risk of breast cancer and endocrine problems, allergic contact dermatitis
Found in – Cosmetics such as foundation, skin and hair care products namely deodorants and anti-perspirants. Also present in food additives, medications and industrially in oils, glues, textiles, fats and shoe polishes.
PHTHALATES – Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers. Some phthalates are used as solvents (dissolving agents) for other materials. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Harmful Effects – Known to have negative effects on the reproductive system and early development. Act as hormone disruptors. Associated with premature breast development in girls and problems with reproductive development in male foetus.
Found in – Perfumes, soaps, hairsprays, shampoos and nail polishes. Used as skin moisturizers and to enhance penetration of skin.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE – is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners.
Harmful Effects – 16,000 studies about SLS have found that it causes Irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes, possible mutations and cancer. Source: EWG’s Cosmetic Safety Review.
Found in – Nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair colour and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents and bath oils/bath salts.
FRAGRANCE – What’s that smell? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know. Fragrance is considered a trade secret, so companies don’t have to tell us what’s in it – which is often dozens or even thousands of synthetic chemical compounds.
Harmful Effects – Studies conducted by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and EWG have found fragrance in cosmetics contain sensitising chemicals associated with allergic reactions such as asthma, wheezing, headaches and contact dermatitis. Hormone-disrupting chemicals have been linked to a range of health effects including sperm damage, thyroid disruption and cancer.
Found in – everything.
D.E.A – DIETHANOLOMINE – Diethanolamine functions as an emulsifier or foaming agents in cosmetics, or to adjust a products pH (acidity). It is used in cutting oils, soaps, shampoos, cleaners, polishers, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
Harmful Effects – Contact dermatitis, eye and skin irritations and is easily absorbed into the skin to accumulate in the brain and body organs. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to D.E.A in humans may result in irritation of the nose and throat, and dermal exposure may irritate the skin.
Found in – Most foaming based products, used in cutting oils, soaps, shampoos, cleaners, polishers, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Clairol, Dove, Neutrogena and Herbal Essence all contain DEA.
Beware that products boasting ‘all-natural’ labels can still contain harmful chemicals, including parabens, so make sure to check the list of ingredients.There are numerous Organic, Vegan products on the market and home remedies available in replacement of most of your favourite cosmetics and toiletries.
Great Resources and Brands I Use:
Skin Deep’s Cosmetic Database – The American government doesn’t require health studies or pre-market testing of the chemicals in personal care products, even though just about everyone is exposed to them. Through Skin Deep, the power of information is placed back in the consumers’ hands.
Environmental Working Group – Leading environmental health research and advocacy organization
David Suzuki Foundation – Canadian website aiming to protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life
Eco Beauty Editor – Eco Beauty and Health Review
Mii Maa Cosmetics – Australian innovation – Vegan, Gluten, and Gluten Free Cosmetics
Trilogy – NZ Made Skin and Hair Care
Swisse Wellness – Australian Wellness Gurus, 25 years young
Beautorium – All things Natural and Organic Beauty website
Paula’s Story in Her Own Words – At the age of 11, I began a tormented struggle with acne and eczema. I tried numerous skin-care products and medical treatments yet my skin didn’t get better.
Then at the age of 25 (and I’ll never forget this moment), I read the ingredient label on a skin-care product I was using and the fourth ingredient was acetone. That’s nail polish remover! From that moment on I began reading all of the research I could find on skin care and eventually I was able to put together a skin-care routine that completely transformed my skin.