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Chemicals in your Skincare Products: Ingredients to Stay Away From

Posted on April 19 2017

The list of ingredients in store-bought, generic products is so long and filled with terms that most of us don’t understand (unless you are a professional chemist) that it may be intimidating to go through every single item. To make everyone’s lives easier, we have compiled a list of the top 5 ingredients to avoid when purchasing your next bottle of skin toner, facial wash or night cream.

Of course, if you would like to skip the hassle of learning about what is detrimental to your skin and subsequently to your health, the next best option would be to go green and opt for safe, natural and organic products.

1)    Mineral Oil

This is one ingredient you will want to avoid if you have an acne problem as it will form a layer over the epidermis of your skin, trapping dirt and sebum which will cause even more breakouts and make your complexion dull and tired-looking.

The Journal of Women’s Health published a study in 2011 reporting that mineral oil hydrocarbons are the greatest contaminant in the human body, contributing to about 1g per person. The study also shows that any oil that gets into the system CANNOT be metabolized and stays in the body. Needless to say, it will be best to stay away from this ingredient altogether.


2)    Phthalates & BPA

Phthalates are found everywhere – toys, detergent, vinyl flooring, wire coating, all things made of plastic etc. It is used as a lubricant in skincare and it is also disguised as a fragrance in deodorant, perfumes, moisturizers and nail polish. Phthalates can cause birth defects in young infants, cancer and hormonal issues.

Since it is found in so many items that we use in our everyday lives, how do we avoid phthalates? Well, some of the ways to do so include:

Avoiding products with fragrances and go for those naturally scented with essential oils instead;

Stay away from products packaged in plastic and reach for those in glass bottles and jars, or recycled paper.

Buy from organic or artisanal businesses. You can be sure that the products sold by these businesses will definitely stay clear of toxins and chemicals;


3)    Formaldehyde

An ingredient that is commonly used by large skincare companies because of how cheap it is, formaldehyde is a colorless gas that is highly flammable. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Formaldehyde is a human carcinogen which means it is an agent that can directly cause cancer. When exposed to it on a short term basis, it can cause skin irritation, watery eyes and a burning sensation in the nose. The most difficult thing about detecting this in any products is the fact that it has 28 different terms, some of which include:

Dowicil 75; Dowicil 100; Dowco 184; Dowicide Q; N-(3-chloroallyl) hexaminium chloride; hexamethylenetetramine chloroallyl chloride; 3,5,7-triaza-1-azoniaadamantane; 1-(3-chloroallyl)-chloride, DMDM-Hydantoin

4)    Sulfates or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sulfates are used in products to help with foaming (eg. facial wash, toothpaste, soap powder) and is one of the widely disputed ingredients when it comes to determining whether or not it is detrimental to one’s health. There are those who argue that it causes cancer when used over a long period of time while some say that it causes no harm at all. Whatever it is, products with sulfates will wash away protective barriers of the skin, leaving the epidermis open to irritation and harmful UV rays, and will be best avoided.


5)    Parabens

Another disputed ingredient, parabens are used as a type of preservative in many products like foundation, shampoos and moisturizers. This controversial item is said to cause various types of cancer but the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have both come forward to rebut that claim. However, parabens IS after all a synthetic preservative and it will be advised to stay clear of this ingredient as much as possible, and opt for products that use natural preservatives instead.



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