Did you know that your skin is the biggest organ of the body and absorbs up to a whopping 60% of what’s put on it? Hence why it’s super important to use only pure, natural and eco products on the inside and the out. It’s because of this that we’ve joined forces with Becky Crisp, founder of Wild Spirit Naturally, to bring you a 4 part series; The 101 Guide to Natural Beauty.
From the moment you rise in the morning, your beauty endures a tiring stream of assaults from the outside. The average person has applied a minimum of 10 products to themselves before the day’s over and around 130 chemicals are absorbed through the bloodstream.
Your skin is so special, so here’s all the important bits to know:
- That amazing skin you’re wrapped in, is your largest organ.
- Your skin absorbs up to 60% of the ingredients you place on it.
- Within as little 26 seconds, these ingredients are swimming around your bloodstream. Everything your body absorbs and digests, impacts the way your body functions, looks and feels. Many of the toxic ingredients found in mainstream beauty products can be directly linked to:
– Skin conditions and irritations;
– Hormonal disfunction;
– Premature ageing;
– Impaired vital organ function; and
– Tumors and cancers.
So, when it comes to making the switch to glow-inducing beauty products, what’s important to avoid and why?
Unfortunately harmful toxins are found everywhere in mainstream cosmetics and beauty products. The mains ’nasties’ we need to look out for are synthetic preservatives and synthetic fragrance. Many of these chemicals are skin irritants, skin penetrators, endocrine disruptors and can be carcinogenic – having the potential to cause cancer.
It would take a long time to go through all of the harmful chemicals currently found in mainstream beauty products, but let’s keep to my ’fearful 14′.
These are the bad boys you should avoid at all costs when checking those labels:
1. PARABENS (ISOBUTYLPARABEN, BUTYLPARABEN, METHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN)
Found in: Almost every type of personal care product including; makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers.
Used for: Commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria, mould and yeast in cosmetic products.
Naughty because: They can mimic the hormone oestrogen, disrupting the endocrine system, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancers. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. Studies indicate that methylparaben applied on the skin reacts with UVB leading to increased skin ageing and DNA damage. These chemicals are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to fertility problems. Parabens can cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis and Rosacea in individuals with paraben allergies.
2. SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCE/PARFUM
Found in: Almost any type of personal care product including perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturisers.
Used for: Makes your products smell nice.
Naughty because: This particular category is pretty scary, because what does “fragrance” mean anyway? The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients and there is no way to know what the chemicals are. The label will simply read “fragrance.” Some problems caused by these chemicals include hormone disruption, headaches and dizziness, rashes, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, skin irritation… the list goes on. Don’t buy a cosmetic that has the word “fragrance” on the ingredients label. Look for labels instead that say, “phthalate–free”.
3. PHTHALATES (DBP, DEHP, DEP)
Found in: Synthetic fragrance, nail polish, and hairsprays.
Used for: A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics, or to make fragrance stick to the skin.
Naughty because: They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls and reproductive birth defects in males and females. They have also been linked to damaged kidneys, lungs and the liver. Unfortunately, it is not an ingredient commonly disclosed on every product, since it’s added to and grouped under the term ‘fragrances’.
4. SODIUM LAURYL/LAURETH SULFATE (SLS AND SLES)
Found in: Shampoo, body wash, face wash, hand soap, toothpaste, bubble bath, mascara and acne treatment.
Used for: A foaming agent used to break down water in grease. It’s so powerful that it’s also used in concrete floor cleaners, engine degreasers, and car wash detergents.
Naughty because: This surfactant can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products (think anything that foams). A well-known skin and lung irritant, it is rapidly absorbed and retained in the eyes, brain, heart and liver, which may result in harmful long-term effects. It can slow down healing, cause cataracts in adults, and prevent children’s eyes from developing properly, corrode hair follicles and impair the ability to grow hair. These surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies.
5. PETROLEUM/PARAFFIN/MINERAL OIL
Found in: Baby oil, lip balm, lip stick, lip gloss, mascara, moisturisers, concealer, foundation, face powder, hair gel, body wash, eye shadow, paraffin treatments, petroleum jelly, and hair conditioners.
Used for: It seals off the skin creating a barrier, which feels slick and glossy.
Naughty because: A petrochemical pollutant derived from crude oil, found in an overwhelming number of products. It doesn’t allow the skin to breath, which is essential for the proper functioning of this organ. It causes the slowing down of the skin’s function and normal cell development, resulting in premature ageing and many other health and skin disorders such as contact dermatitis.
Found in: Nail polish, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, eyelash glue, eyeshadow, cleansers, and hair products.
Used for: Used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth.
Naughty because: You won’t find this listed as “formaldehyde”, except perhaps in a few remaining brands of nail polish. It hides behind ingredient names such as: Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), Glyoxal and Oxaldehyde. Recognised as a carcinogen, it’s linked to lung cancers, Hodgkin lymphoma, leukaemia, and myeloid leukaemia. It permeates through inhalation and can cause multiple irritations. It’s banned for use in cosmetics in Sweden and Japan.
Found in: Skin lightening creams.
Used for: A skin lightening chemical.
Naughty because: It inhibits the production of melanin and is a linked to cancer, organ toxicity and skin irritation.
8. MERCURY (THIMEROSAL AND MERTHIOLATE)
Found in: Ear and eye drops; may also be found in mascara.
Used for: The metallic element is used as a preservative and antiseptic.
Naughty because: It is known to damage brain function and cause eye irritation.
9. PROPYLENE GLYCOL
Found in: Cosmetics, moisturisers, sunscreens, conditioners, baby wipes, lotion, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant.
Used for: Used as a skin-conditioning agent and in antifreeze solutions, in brake and hydraulic fluids, as a de-icer, and as a solvent.
Naughty because: Propylene Glycol will cause serious health conditions, including liver and heart damage, and damage to the central nervous system if sufficient amounts are absorbed by the body. There is no difference between the propylene glycol used in the industry and that used in personal care products. It has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema.
Found in: Soap, hand sanitisers, deodorants, toothpaste, and cosmetics.
Used for: Antibacterial products.
Naughty because: Studies have shown that triclosan is an endocrine disruptor; especially thyroid and reproductive hormones, and a skin irritant that enables bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. There also still isn’t enough supporting evidence that washing with antibacterial soaps containing triclosan, provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water. Antimicrobial pesticides - toxic to the aquatic environment, may also impact human reproductive systems.
11. COAL TAR DYES (AMINOPHENOL, DIAMINOBENZENE, PHENYLENEDIAMINE)
Found in: Hair dye, shampoo, colorant in cosmetics.
Used for: To produce synthetic colours and acts as an anti-dandruff agent.
Naughty because: Coal tar ingredients are known carcinogens and may be contaminated with heavy metals, which are toxic to the brain. They can also commonly cause skin sensitivity and/or irritation.
12. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Found in: Commonly found in lipsticks, moisturisers, nappy creams and other cosmetics.
Used for: Synthetic antioxidants, used as a preservative to extend shelf life
Naughty because: They are likely carcinogens. May also disrupt hormones, as well as cause liver, thyroid and kidney problems.
Found in: Nail polish, nail treatments and hair color/bleaching products.
Used for: Toluene is a potent solvent, able to dissolve paint and paint thinner.
Naughty because: A petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. You may see it on labels listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin. Toluene has also been linked to immune system toxicity.
14. SUNSCREEN CHEMICALS
Found in: Sunscreen products.
Used for: These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light.
Naughty because: These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate.
So beauties, now you’re armed with the ‘fearful 14’ and wondering what the hell you can use on your largest organ?
Well in my next feature, I’m going to be sharing with you what ingredients to include in your beauty regime and why making the switch to organic beauty, will rock your socks!