10 Harmful ingredients to avoid in skin care products
Unless you happen to be a chemist, working out what is really in your skin care products and deciding whether or not those ingredients might be harmful is a really tough task. The long names of some of the chemicals are only a part of the problem, because manufacturers often try and hide harmful ingredients under different names and, even though you don’t eat your skin care products, they can still be absorbed through your skin, so it is important that you do know what is in them. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your skin care products are safe, because some do contain ingredients that are decidedly unsafe. Here are ten harmful skin care product ingredients that it would be best to avoid.
Whilst there is still a debate as to whether parabens can be blamed for breast cancer, it is still a fact that in a 2004 study, traces of parabens were found in 90% of all samples taken from human breast cancer tumours. That, plus the fact the parabens can disrupt the endocrine system, is enough reason to avoid this preservative that is used in many cosmetic products.
2. Polyethylene Glycol
Polyethylene Glycol is used in facial cleansers to remove the grease, but there are concerns about this cosmetic ingredient too. It’s very harsh on the skin and is actually the same de-greasing product that is used in oven cleaners, so you can understand why it is so harsh. It has also has been found to be often contaminated with carcinogens and heavy metals.
3. Silicone derived emollients
Silicone derived emollients are used in skin care products to lock in moisture and they are found in products like BB cream. Although locking in moisture may sound like a good idea, silicone derived emollients are so good at sealing the skin, it has been described as being like putting a plastic film on your face. Over usage of products containing these emollients will stop your skin breathing and could cause skin irritation.
4. Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate is not a problem when it’s on its own, but it becomes a potential health risk when it mixes Vitamin C. Sodium benzoate is used as a preservative and, when it is mixed with Vitamin C, it forms the carcinogenic compound, benzene.
5. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is used as a surfactant, which means it makes things like body washes and foam cleansers, foam. Despite its wide use in skin care products, it is a known skin irritant for many people. It is also known that Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is very easily absorbed into the body and it accumulates in brain, liver and heart.
What can make it more difficult to recognise the harmful ingredients in beauty products is the fact that some are banned in some products and countries, but not in all. Phthalates, for example, have been linked to kidney and lung damage, disruption of the endocrine system, and cancer. Even though they have been banned in children’s toys in the EU, they are still widely used in lotions, and in other cosmetic products.
7. Coal Tar
One of the cosmetic ingredients that have been banned in some countries, but not in all, is coal tar. It is used in skin care products designed especially for dry skin and it is also used as a colour in some cosmetics. Even though it has proven to be a carcinogen and the use of it is banned in Europe, it is still widely used in many products in the US and elsewhere in the world.
Hydroquinone, which is used in some skin lightening products, has been rated as highly toxic by some organisations and it has been banned in the UK. It is still used in North America and other countries, though, despite the fact that it has been linked to issues with the reproductive system and to the development of cancer.
Triclosan is commonly found in antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, but it has been linked to endocrine disruption and increased risk of cancer. If you are looking for antibacterial products, why take the risk with this ingredient, when there are so many natural products that have antibacterial properties?
10. Petroleum based ingredients
Petroleum based ingredients, which come from crude oil, are used a lot in skin care products. The problem with these ingredients, if you overuse them, is that they will clog up your pores and cause skin infections. Petroleum based ingredients, like the other ingredients that we have listed, are quite obviously not products that nature intended us to put on our skin, so it would be best to avoid products like this where you can.