Posted tagged ‘cosmetic ingredients’

The Ten Deadly (Skincare) Sins

August 30, 2011

The Ten Deadly (Skincare) Sins

What’s in your skin cream? Any ideas? Thought not. The ingredients lists on cosmetics’ packaging can confuse even the most clued-up label lover. Marian Bourne who created Celgenics shares her tips on what to look out for.

What comes out of the lab isn't always good for your skin

Many products made by leading cosmetics brands contain unfathomable lists of ingredients that can be harmful to not only ourselves, but the environment around us. You need to be armed with the information on what you should be avoiding. So what are the top 10 chemicals to avoid to guarantee you’re not using highly toxic ingredients?

1. Parabens
Otherwise known as methyl, ethyl, propyl, butly (sounding rather like the registration call for a 1930s girls’ school classroom), and also hydoxy methyl benzoates. Parabens are artificial preservatives which can give a product up to seven years of shelf life. They’ve been linked to cancer, they’re neurotoxic and they have hormone-disrupting qualities which mimic oestrogen and interfere with the body’s endocrine system. This is a cluster of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into your bloodstream to regulate your body.

2. Synthetic Colours and Fragrances
Many colours in make-up and fragrances are carcinogenic – defined, this means a substance or radiation that’s an agent directly involved in causing cancer. Labelled as FD&C or D&C, these are followed by a colour and a number. Fragrances for women can contain up to 200 single ingredients. They can also cause many side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, irritation and so on. Both are found in nearly all chemical-based products and cosmetics.

3. Propylene Glycol
This is used as a moisturiser – ideally this is vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural and have virtually no toxicity.   But usually, it’s a synthetic petrochemical mix and labelled as PEG or PPG. They can often cause an allergic reaction, including dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities and could inhibit the growth of your skin cells, or cause skin irritation.

4. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate
A cheap and harsh detergent that is strong enough to degrease an engine! SLS provides the foaming and cleaning action in toothpastes, shampoos, soaps and body washes. Not surprisingly, it easily penetrates the skin and helps other chemicals to penetrate.  It’s sometimes disguised on the label as having been derived from coconut – this too can cause eye and skin irritation.

5. Formaldehyde
Labelled as diazolidinyl urea or imidazolidinyl urea, these chemicals release formaldehyde – a colourless gas that is commonly used to preserve the dead that seems a strange choice for beauty products! It can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and lungs and is a known carcinogen.

6. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
Often used in cosmetics as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents. They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. They are carcinogenic and toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.

7. Toluene
This is poison!  It’s harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made from petroleum or coal tar, it’s found in many synthetic fragrances. Long-term exposure has been linked to anaemia, low blood cell count, liver/kidney damage, and it may even affect a developing foetus – so if you’re pregnant, it’s a nasty it’s very much best to avoid. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.

8. Petrolatum
Commonly known as mineral oil jelly, liquid vaseline, paraffinum and baby oil!  It’s derived from petroleum products and is often mixed with paraffin oil derivatives. These products coat the skin like a plastic so your pores get clogged, and your skin can’t breathe. The ensuing build-up of toxins can lead to acne, dermatitis and photosensitivity, or rash.

9. Carincogens

Watch out for Acrylamide, Bisphenol-A (BPA), Butyl benzyl phthalate, Coal tar dyes, Green 5, Orange 7, Red 3,4,8,9,17,19,33, mineral oils and Nitrofurazone.

10. Skin Whiteners
These are a combination of the hormone cortisone and hydroquinone. Frankly, you shouldn’t see hydroquinone in any European product, because it has been banned. However, if you see it in a product on the internet, don’t be tempted, it’s carcinogenic and may pose a risk of leukemia.

There are many other ingredients to watch out for. A good rule of thumb is to look out for abbreviations e.g. (DEA) or (TEA) in brackets and chemical chain names e.g. stearalkonium chloride. New laws are due to be enforced over the next few years, which should hopefully bring a better understanding of cosmetic ingredient risks. The cosmetics industry may soon find that it has to justify everything that goes into its products – and not before time!

Do your cosmetics contain these nasties? Why not have a rummage through and let me know?

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