Below is a list of every necessary ingredient in cosmetics and skin care; the harmful, the organic and the natural alternatives. Next time you're swayed to buy the 'natural' or 'organic' product or if you already have a shelf-full take a closer look and see how many contain these naughties.
Unfortunately, the word 'natural' has little meaning when it comes to cosmetics labelling, which is why it's important to know what all the ingredients on the label are so you can make an informed decision about what you're putting on your skin. Remember, ingredients are listed from highest percentage to lowest.
COLOURS & COLOURANTS
Coal-tar derived colours in cosmetics are a concern because coal tar is a carcinogen. Some colour additives are not approved for food products, but may be added to cosmetics such as lipstick, which are inevitably ingested.
Look out for (and avoid): Aluminium lakes, astaxanthin, azulene, canthaxanthin, sodium copper chlorophyllin (chlorophyll), D&C/FD&C colours, p-phenylenediamine, ultramarine.
Natural alternatives: True natural alternatives include beet powder, annatto, henna and caramel, Mica powders and iron oxides also have natural components and are non-toxic and non-irritating.
Emollients prevent moisture loss. Some synthetic emollients do not allow the skin to breathe an can actually cause it to become irritated and dehydrated,
Look out for (and avoid): acetylated lanolin alcohol, butyl adipate, capric/caprylic triglyceride, ceteareth, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl esters, cetyl palmitate, coconut fatty acids, cyclomethicone, decyl oleate, dicaprylate-dicapriate, dimethicone, disodium, cocoamphodiacetate, dodecatrienol, eucerin, glycerol-mono-sterate-palmitate, glyceryl cocoate, glyceryl stearate, hydrated palm glycerides, hydrogenated oils, isobutyl stearate, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, isostearyl-isostearate, lauryl lactate, octyl palmitate, octyldodecanol, oleth-2, parrafin, petrolatum, squalene, stearate, stearyl alcohol.
Natural alternatives: Plant oils such as almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, hazelnut oil, jojoba oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, tamanu oil. Shea butter, cocoa butter and beeswax are also natural emollients.
Many synthetic humectants (to soften skin) draw moisture from the lower layers of the skin but fail to replace it, giving softer skin in the short term, but drying it out over time.
Look our for (and avoid): Butylene glycol, ethylene/diethylene glycol, PEG compounds (e.g. polyethylene glycol), polypropylene glycol, propylene glycol.
Natural alternatives: natural humectants deliver moisture to the lower levels of skin while also attracting moisture to the surface. Aloe, lecithin and vegetable glycerine are among them.
Water is the most natural solvent, but not all ingredients dissolve in water, so cosmetic companies may use synthetic solvents instead.
Look our for (and avoid): Acetic acid, acetone, amyl alcohol, benzene, butylene glycol, ethyl butyl acetate, ethylene glycol monophenyl-ether, glycerine, hexane, isopropyl alcohol, methanol, phenol, propyl alcohol, propylene glycol, SD alcohols.
Natural alternatives: water, apple cider vinegar, grain alcohol.
Emulsifiers either suspend tiny drops of oil in water (used in creams and lotions) or water within oil (used in heavier creams). They are often derived from petrochemical gases and as such can irritate the skin.
Look out for (and avoid): Acetylated lanolin alcohol, alkyl polyglycoside, cetearyl alcohol, betaine, carbomer, carboxymethyl, cellulose, cocamidopropyl betaine (coco betaine), ethyl acetate, ethylene glycol distearate, fatty acid alkanolamide, glyceryl mono-di-oleate, glycerol mono-di-stearate, PEG-100 stearate, PEG-25 hydrogenated castor oil, polysorbate, sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium sulfosuccinates, sorbitan esters, sorbitan stearate, stearyl alcohol, triethanolamine (TEA).
Natural alternatives: Lecithin, jojoba oil, carnauba wax and rice bran.
Synthetic fragrances are mainly derived from petroleum sources. The word 'fragrance' or 'parfum' on a label can refer to a mixture of synthetic fragrances which may cause allergies, dermatitis and breathing problems.
Look out for (and avoid): Amyl acetate (banana fragrance), anisole, benzophenones 1 to 12 (rose fragrance), berry fragrance, bitter almond oil (benzaldehyde), cinnamic acid, coconut fragrance, cucumber fragrance, basically anything ending in 'fragrance', methyl acetate, methyl salicylate, phenethyl alcohol/phenoxyethanol, vanillin, verataldehyde.
Natural alternatives: Don't be fooled by 'natural fragrance' - only use certified organic essential oils.
Surfactants (surface-acting agents) thickens and creates foam in shampoos and skin cleansers. Sodium lauryl sulphate is the poster bad boy here and along with DEA, TEA and MEA compounds that can irritate the skin and scalp.
Look out for (and avoid): Ammonium lauryl sulphate, betaine, carboxylate, cocamide DEA or MEA, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, cocamine, cocoamphoglycinate, cococarboxamide, MEA-4-carboxylate, coconut and corn oil 'soap', coconut betaine, coconut surfactants (ammonium lauryl or laureth sulphate), coco polyglucose, DEA cetyl polyglucose, DEA, disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate, glycerol cocoate, glycerol laurate, glycerol monolaurate, glycerol stearate, lactamide DEA, lauramide DEA/MEA, magnesium lauryl sulphate, methyl glucose dioleate, neutralised coconut extract, olefin sulfonate, PEG-100 (polyethylene glycol) stearate, PEG - 150, sodium coco sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium myreth sulphate, sodium myristoyl sarcosinate, sodium stearate, sorbitan stearate, sucrose cocoate, sulphated/sulfonated oil, TEA lauryl sulphate, sodium cocoamphodiacetate, sodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium lauryl sarcosinate.
Natural alternatives: Castile soap, yucca extract, soapwort and quillaja bark extract.
Happy natural living beauties x
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