Cosmetic ingredients to avoid at all costs

Do you purchase cosmetics without reading the label? shutterstock_156860642

It is estimated that a woman applies an average of 168 chemicals to her body daily. It is not the individual, small amounts of each industrially produced synthetic chemical we should be concerned about, but rather the cumulative and combined effects, over time of these chemicals. The amassed absorption of these ingredients in our blood stream can cause grave consequences. From infertility, to changing hormones, to early onset puberty, allergies, and yes, even certain types of cancer. Is your health a priority for you? Are you influenced so much by the media that you purchase blindly without ever researching what might be best for YOU?

We are constantly bombarded with adverts presenting images of what we “should’ look like, or information on social networks and magazines of what we can do to “change” how we look . Little is said about what is put into the products to achieve those results. Is the price of beauty really worth risking our health for?

Are the increasing amounts of resources required to produce and package these products, later found in our waters, worth what we are doing to our planet and our environment?

We all want to look more beautiful and younger, so in reality we should NOT stop using cosmetics, but rather choose the right ones. We want to ensure the products we buy are SAFE for our families and our planet! We want to know what manufacturers are doing to protect our planet and trust them to have the customers’ best interest at heart!

Unfortunately, the combined effects of all these chemicals are not fully known. Although recent data is available, the current regulations are based on scientifically outdated results and pressure applied by lobby groups.

The solution? An informed and self-educated consumer. YOU can help change what is added to these products IF you DON’T purchase them. YOU can help lead change if you purchase the RIGHT ones.

Is there hope? Absolutely! An increasing number of companies now recognize the dangers and are using less and less synthetic ingredients in their products. There has been a growth of “all-natural” and “organic” products on the markets, and the consumers are responding very positively!

Do you want to be kept up to date about the healthy alternatives to the mass market products you find in your pharmacy? You can, by signing-up to receive informative newsletters that can help you choose the best products for you and your family.

So, which are the ingredients we MUST avoid?


It is estimated that around 99% of beauty products contain synthetic preservatives called parabens (e.g. methyl- , propyl- , and butyl- , paraben). These compounds are often found in shampoos, make-up, lotions and deodorant. As well as causing the skin irritation, rashes, dermatitis, and allergic reactions, parabens mimic the female oestrogen. New research undertaken by the University of Reading found high concentration of parabens in 18 out of 20 breast tumors.


A group of chemicals used as solvents and fixative, phthalates (pronounced tha-lates) are found in hair spray, deodorant, nail polish and perfume. Commercially they are used as softeners in PVC. Phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. The Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) states:

“Chemicals that cause birth defects do not belong in products marketed for personal or house hold use. While the levels of phthalates in some individual products were low, people are being exposed to phthalates from many different products each day.”


Most of us think embalming fluid when we hear formaldehyde but this toxic chemical pops up in aqueous cosmetic formulations such as shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, liquid hand wash and bubble bath, including products aimed at babies and children. Frequent use can cause dryness, cracking, dermatitis, itching and blisters.


The amount of fragrance chemicals used each year is enormous – nearly 1 million kilograms of benzyl acetate, a synthetic “floral” fragrance ingredient, are used in the US each year. This innocent – sounding ingredient can contain literally thousands of chemical, many toxic and carcinogenic. Synthetic scents, typically made up of chemicals derived from petroleum, can cause headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, coughing, vomiting and skin irritation. Of a thousand chemicals used in fragrances, only some have been safety tested. Children are particular tend to be more sensitive to fragrances, and can develop allergic reactions easily. Data from Sweden shows that perfume is the most common contact allergen to men, possibly caused by shaving, and damaging the skin, increasing the chances of absorbing the fragrance chemicals and thus developing an allergy.


Researched suggest that 90% of beauty products, ranging from shampoo to toothpaste, use a detergent called sodium dodecysulfate (SDS), also known as sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) as a foaming agent. A solution just 2% SLS can increase skin thickness, cause irritation, inflammation, and increase other forms of immune activity to the skin. Some shampoos contain more than 50% SLS. Other researches suggest that SLS and SLES may cause potentially carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins to form in shampoos and cleansers by reacting with other commonly used chemical ingredients.


Used in products such as toothpaste, soaps, and body washes, as well as many household cleaning products, Triclosan boasts antimicrobial properties. Human body is a home for many different bacteria, many of which are beneficial. Triclosan cannot target specific bacteria and so will kill all that it comes across, beneficial ore not. Researches from Tufts University in Boston have said that “triclosan” is capable of forcing emergence of “superbugs” that it cannot kill. Using triclosan daily in the home, in products raging from children’s soaps to toothpaste to “germ-free” cutting boards, may be unwise”. Environmentally, triclosan is also the problem, and can be converted to dioxin (linked to cancer) when exposed to sunlight in water. Consequently it is classified as “toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in aquatic environment”.


Commonly used in anti-freeze and brake fluid, propylene glycol finds its way into many moisturisers and hand and body lotions as an emulsifier and solvent. As your bottle of anti-freeze will tell you as a neurotoxin and is readily absorbed through the skin. It has been linked to contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver abnormalities. It also inhibits skin cell growth, damaging cell membrane and causing rashes, dry skin and surface change to the skin.


These hormone-disrupting chemicals can form cancer-causing nitrates. Dr. Samuel Epstein, Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois, reports that repeated applications of DEA based detergents results increases in liver cancer and kidney cancer.

Choose correctly and with your conscience and you CAN make a difference. I personally believe we must persevere in the search to find what is right for us. We might need guidance from time to time, but ultimately… your body will tell you what is right for YOU.

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