The Toxic Touch of Beauty Products – 7 Chemicals to Avoid

eye made upDo you keep an eye an the ingredients in your beauty products? Well maybe it’s time you did. Image via dreamglow pumpkincat210

Have you ever read the ingredients on the back of your beauty products? It is fairly common practice to check the ingredients of food, so why is it that the same doesn’t apply to cosmetics? After all, it does go on our skin on a daily basis.

The truth is, that even if you do read the ingredients, those long chemical names probably don’t mean that much to you, but the cosmetics industry is filled with chemicals so there are a few items you should keep in mind to avoid.

1. Coal tar – For many women, part of the morning ritual involves putting on their favourite shade of lipstick, but would you be as attached to it if you knew that it contained harmful materials? Synthetic colours often listed as D&C or FD&C with a number in the ingredients. These are based on coal tars, which are carcinogens. Carcinogens are cancer-causing substances, so how much do you really love your lipstick? Maybe it’s time to switch.

2. Parabens – These are actually a group of compounds, which occur naturally in certain foods, however, rather than going through the expensive process of extracting it from fresh fruit and vegetables, they are synthetically produced.

They are widely used as anti-microbial preservatives, but your skin can absorb the chemicals causing irritation. They disrupt hormone levels and while they are not the only cause of health problems, given the popularity of this chemical in beauty products, it is something to look out for.

3. Petrolatum – This is used as a moisturizer, which is ironic given that it clogs your pores, by coating your skin. In essence, this substance stops your body’s natural moisturizing system, which can in turn causes skin irritations. Of course, the reason for its popularity is that it is inexpensive.

Here in the Middle East, where the sun is so strong, it is vital to take care of our skin, but this is one chemical that you don’t want be using daily in your skin care routine.

4. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate – What this does is give your shampoo that nice foaming action which we all love, but in reality it is basically a harsh detergent. In fact it can cause skin irritations, eye problems and other allergic reactions.

5. Hydroquinone – It is very popular in certain cultures to lighten the skin and hydroquinone is key in many skin-lightening products. When you think about it though, anything that causes a permanent bleaching effect in your skin can hardly be healthy.

6. Propylene Glycol – A by-product of petroleum, what it does is act as a solvent on the skin making it popular in lotions and deodorants. It is highly toxic however and can lead to liver and kidney problems. If this isn’t convincing, consider the fact that it can be found in anti-freeze, now is that something you really want floating around your body?

7. Phenylenediamine (PPD) – This is found in permanent hair dyes as well as dark coloured cosmetics. Whether you dye your hair from the bottle or go to a salon, this chemical is just as common and can in fact cause scalp irritation and allergic reactions.

Consider the fact that to dye your hair, you have to sit for at least half and hour with chemicals seeping into your scalp. Why put yourself through all this when there are natural alternatives to hair dye?

When buying products there are several things to keep in mind, not the least of which is the chemicals in your products. So next time you reach for your favourite shampoo, have a glance at the ingredients and try to avoid the products with bright colours, synthetic fragrances and long scary looking chemical compounds.

Read more about natural alternatives to beauty products:
Sage Advice on Natural Deodorants (7 Tips)
Three “Natural” Masks and Cleaners For Soothing Summer Skin

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  15. pumpkincat210 says:

    I knew about most of the others but had no idea about the last one you listed, Phenylenediamine (PPD). If I darken my hair, which I do rarely, I find it is thinner afterwards. I’ve never had a problem with lightening only darkening..I will definitely not darken my hair anymore without checking for this ingredient.
    And all the extra parabens around us…bothers me a lot.

  16. Tinamarie says:

    Excellent list! And these ingrendients are everywhere in our personal products. Scary.

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