If your looking to adopt a more natural approach to skin care then knowing which chemicals to avoid is the best place to start. Most commercial products are filled with a long list of chemicals that have been linked to many side effects including skin irritation and hormone disruption. On average, Women use hundreads of chemicals on their body each day without even realising it. From hair care products to skin care and cosmetics, many Women are unaware of the amount of nasty toxins that are going into their seemingly safe skin care products. Slowly but surely there are now many great natural and organic brands that are paving the way for a more natural approach. There are some really wonderful brands out there with amazing quality products which means once you switch, there really is no good excuse for going back!
When first transitioning from mainstream toxic products to more natural ones, there are two ways in which you can approach it. The ‘all or nothing’ way, which involves ditching all of your toxic products and replacing them in one go, which is definitely a great feeling but can also be quite expensive replacing everything. Or you can gradually transition, for example, replacing each item one at a time as you run out. It’s up to you how you approach it. For myself, I did a big clear out and never looked back. I love knowing that everything I use on my skin is natural, free from toxins and nourishes my skin. I also love being aware of what I am purchasing and supporting ethical and natural companies. Once you start to clear out the toxins it’s much easier to quickly identify the nasties from the natural ingredients but it can seem a bit overwhelming at the start which is why I have compiled this list for you. The following toxins are found in many store bought products and are linked to many unwanted side effects. Make sure you always read the labels before purchasing and try your best to find products which only use safe and natural ingredients as opposed to harsh chemicals.
- BHA and BHT – Used mainly in moisturisers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
- Coal Tar – Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
- DEA related ingredients – Used in cream and foaming products, such as moisturisers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. Harmful to fish and other wildlife. Look also for related chemicals MEA and TEA.
- Dibutly phthalate – Used as a plasticiser in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and toxin to the reproductive system. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
- Formaldehyde preservatives – Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly releases small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
- Parabens – Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
- Parfum – Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics — even in some products marketed as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife.
- PEG Compounds – Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also for related chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).
- Petrolatum – Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturisers. A petroleum product can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
- Siloxanes – Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisturise. Suspected endocrine disrupter and toxic to the reproductive system (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate – Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate).
- Triclosan – Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
Although this list may seem quite overwhelming, you will soon start to easily identify the chemicals in your products. A great tool to assist you is databases such as The Chemical Maze App and Skin Care Data Base. To help you transition to a more natural approach, some of my favourite Natural and Ethical Companies include Inika Cosmetics and La Mav Skincare.
For more on chemicals to avoid in skin care and natural alternatives to skin care, get your free copy of my eguide ‘Eco Beauty’ by subscribing to the mailing list!