Updated: Jan 19, 2019
The terrible 'touch-me-nots' of the beauty world.
Every day we use products that we think are ok, but in truth most are not proven to be safe.
Considering our skin is the largest organ, we need to pay closer attention to what we're putting on it. Your skin absorbs up to 60% of the ingredients you place on it. Within as little as 26 seconds these ingredients are swimming around your bloodstream.
There are 25,000 chemicals used in cosmetics and most have not been tested for long-term effects. Many of the toxic ingredients found in mainstream beauty products can be directly linked to:
skin conditions and irritations; hormonal disfunction; impaired liver and other vital organ function; and tumours and cancers.
Who knew?! Don't be scared...just get educated and avoid the baddies below:
BHA and BHT
Used in preservatives, there are concerns that these are toxic to organs and cause irritation to the skin, eyes and lungs. BHA has been linked to endocrine disruption.
COAL TAR DERIVATIVES
Many synthetic colours are derived from coal tar and are potentially carcinogenic. Look our for p-phenylenediamine - used in numerous hair dyes - and colours with the prefix D&C or FD&C.
DEA, MEA and TEA
Keep an eye out for any ingredients that include the acronyms DEA, MEA and TEA (diethanolamine, monoethanolamine and triethanolamine respectively). These are used as surfacants and they carry several health concerns, the most worrying of which is that they can increase the risk of cancer.
DIBUTYL PHTHALATE (DBP)
Used as a plasticiser, fragrance ingredient and solvent, this acts as an endocrine disrupter and can cause damage to the reproductive system. The EU has banned its use in cosmetics.
This carcinogen can be released by several different preservatives used in the cosmetics industry, namely DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.
This family of preservatives has gained a lot of negative publicity in recent years and rightly so; they mimic oestrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system that regulates our hormones.
These terms when used on cosmetic ingredient labels are unbelievably vague; they can refer to any mixture of synthetic fragrances which don't have to be named individually. They are associated with allergic reactions, asthma and respiratory problems.
A.k.a polyethylene glycols, these are derived from petroleum and are used in many skin cream bases. Impurities such as 1,4-dioxane, found in many PEG compounds, have been linked to cancer.
Obtained from petroleum and used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lipsticks and moisturisers. Associated with organ system toxicity; also has contamination concerns.
Any ingredient ending in '-siloxane' or '-methicone.' Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften and moisten. There are various concerns around endocrine disruption and organ toxicity.
SODIUM LAURETH/LAURYL SULPHATE (SLES/SLS)
These foaming agents have been known to cause irritation to the skin, eyes and lungs. They may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which may increase the risk of cancer.
A preservative and anti-bacterial agent that is found in toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Irritating to the skin and eyes and suspected of hormone disruption.
Learn how to make your own natural fresh faced beauty products without the hidden nasties at our next Beauty Cook Workshop.