Your skin is your largest and also one of the most important organs of your body. It performs several vital functions including general protection (for organs, bones, ligaments etc), thermoregulation, immune defence and also allows the phenomenon of sensation. Did you know, up to 60% of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bodies? This means that the products that we put on our skin have a direct affect on our health and overall sense of well being.
Since each country has their own regulations when it comes to cosmetics and skincare products, it is very important to be aware of the ingredients that are incorporated into different formulas, both their function, and consequential interactions.
Multiple ingredients found in skincare and beauty products can be linked to undesirable skin issues or conditions, ranging from allergic reactions and irritations to eczema, hormonal disruption and hormonal-based acne. In severe cases these can have damaging effects to your overall health and well-being.
Here is a list of the top 10 ingredients you should be aware of and thus, actively avoid:
A toxic metal that can have oestrogen-like effects on our body, disrupting the healthy functioning of the endocrine system. Usually found in personal care products, especially antiperspirant deodorants.
2. DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine):
Clear, colourless and viscous liquids with ammonia-like odours. Usually found in products that foam like facial cleansers and soaps, as well as eye makeup, fragrances, hair products, and even sunscreens.
3. DMDM HYDANTOIN & UREA (Imidazolidinyl):
Preservatives that often release formaldehyde which may cause skin allergies, irritations, headaches, and loss of sleep. Usually found in skincare products, cosmetics, shampoos, conditioners, and detergents.
4. MINERAL OILS:
A petroleum by-product that coats the skin, consequently clogging the pores. It may interfere with the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, therefore increasing the likelihood of acne and other skin inflammations and irritations. Usually found in creams, lotions, ointments, and cosmetic products.
Not always labelled, but often used as a preservative, these may contribute to hormone imbalances. Usually found in skincare products such as moisturisers and deodorants.
6. PEG (Polyethylene glycol):
An ingredient that can alter and reduce the skin’s natural moisture factor and protective skin barrier. Usually found in cleansers which are labelled to help dissolve oil and grime from the skin.
Phthalates are used in cosmetics as lubricants. They are known to be endocrine disruptors that have links to both breast cancer and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, this is included in many "fragrances" so it can be hard to detect in products. You can often find this ingredient in products such as nail polish, moisturisers, shampoos, hair sprays, and detergents.
Look for ingredients ending in "-siloxane" or "-methicone." Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. They are suspected endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxicants (cyclotetrasiloxane), which are also harmful to the environment (especially fish and wildlife).
9. SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES:
Anything that is synthetic or artificial should always raise a red flag. These are made up of hundreds to thousands of different ingredients not listed on the label, so you can never be sure of what you are actually being exposed to. Usually found in cosmetic and skincare products but also in many household products.
A synthetic antibacterial agent that may disrupt thyroid function and can degrade into a form of dioxin, a class of chemicals linked to a broad range of toxicities. Usually found in soaps, mouthwash, shaving cream, deodorants, toothpastes, etc.
It is important to read the ingredient lists of your skincare products thoroughly and not skim over words, especially the ones you can’t pronounce. Remember, your skincare products should be made with quality ingredients that are tested, suitable for sensitive skin, vegan and organic and should not contain any toxins/preservatives that could affect your health.