Table of Contents
Welcome to the second part of our two-part feature covering the ten most harmful chemicals found in cosmetics! Check out part one of our harmful chemicals found in cosmetics feature if you haven’t done so already. If you have, read on!
Sulfates are most commonly included in hair care treatments and shampoos – in fact, many of the formulas and brands we know so well cannot function without including them as an ingredient. Sulfates are basically the result of a reaction between lauryl alcohol (derived from either coconut oil or petrolatum) and sulfuric acid. It is both a binding agent and allows a shampoo to foam – one of the main components of what makes a shampoo work.
The sulfates help to separate the oils in your hair, thus allowing you to remove the dirt and the gunk from your scalp. However, they often tend to strip your hair of their natural color over time and will remove the natural oils that keep them moisturized and healthy. Sulfates also contain a compound known as ‘1,4 dioxane’ which occurs in small amounts, but can build up over time with extensive use and is considered to be a carcinogen i.e. may lead to the formation of cancer.
Sulfates can also lead to skin and hair damage over time as well as other immunological issues i.e. a weaker immune system and therefore more vulnerable to disease and infection. Sulfates have even been linked to an increase in eye-damage among users. There is a lot of debate around this chemical in the industry, however 16,000 studies contained in the PubMed library confirm sulfates toxicity levels to some degree or another. So why take the chance with your own health when you could safely avoid them altogether.
— Women's Health (@WomensHealthMag) March 18, 2017
As I briefly mentioned earlier in the article, the term ‘fragrance’ may sound like an unassuming and perhaps even innocent ingredient to find in a product, but it is easily one of the most confusing and mysterious elements of modern day formulas. In fact, the term is widely used as a legal loophole, and is used to disguise any variation or inclusion of chemicals in a recipe or formula as they’re considered to be ‘trade secrets.’
Other than the scent-based chemicals that are used to give a product its distinctive fragrance or odor, ingredients contained under the bracket-term of ‘fragrance’ may include solvents (parabens, phthalates etc.), stabilizers, UV-absorbents, additional preservatives and dyes. They’re a veritable chemical cocktail and can have serious effects on your overall health when used regularly or over a long period of time.
There are over 3000 listed ingredients/chemicals that may be contained within fragrances (as listed by the International Fragrance Association) – most of which act as carcinogens and lead to cancer or cause hormone imbalances and disrupt vital bodily functions with a buildup over time. These chemicals can affect anyone of any age or sex but are especially hazardous to infants and pregnant mothers.
Petrolatum – otherwise known as petroleum jelly, is one of the many petrochemicals that are still widely used in cosmetics products in the US. The ingredient has been linked to the formation of carcinogens in the body and may ultimately lead to the development of cancer.
With extended use, the chemicals contained within petrolatum seep into your bloodstream through the pores of your skin and can therefore release the harmful carcinogens directly into your body.
Because of this, it has been completely banned in the European Union for use in cosmetics. It is generally used to form a protective layer on the surface of your skin and help to retain moisture as well as help to keep bacteria at bay – which may lead to infection. If petrolatum is refined properly and intensively, it may be harmless.
However, studies have proven that women with high levels of PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – the carcinogens which cause cancer) are 50% more likely to develop breast cancer. So it would be to your best advantage to avoid this ingredient as much as possible whether it’s refined carefully or not, in order to reduce your risk of developing cancer at a later stage in your life.
9) Mineral Oil
Although mineral oil sounds harmless – perhaps even beneficial, the truth of the matter is that it’s quite the opposite. Mineral oil is very similar to petrolatum oil (in fact they’re basically produced in the same method) and should be treated the same as petrolatum oil – avoided at all costs. Mineral oil, much like petrolatum oil, is a byproduct of the distillation process that is used to produce gasoline from crude oil.
Because of this, it naturally tends to contain a wide variety of chemical contaminants that remain in the final product (even after being refined) which can seep into your skin as it melts at body temperature. Over time, the chemicals contained within the mineral oil buildup in your system and lead to the formation of cancer – or readily contribute to the formation of the latter.
On top of this, mineral oil has largely been known to clog your pores, as it forms a protective barrier on the surface of the skin which is supposed to lock moisture in and keep bacteria out. However, by clogging your pores, you also lock bacteria, dead skin cells and oxidized oil into your pores which can lead to irritation and blemishes. And finally, mineral oil, contrary to its name, contains no vitamins or mineral and therefore adds no additional value to your skin whatsoever. For a healthier oil, try Argan Oil.
Oxybenzone is a derivative of benzophenone and is widely considered a toxic chemical that builds up easily and is very hard to remove or flush from the body – once the damage is done, it’s permanent. It is commonly found in nail polish, foundation, moisturizer, lip balm and sunscreen. It acts as a UV-blocker, which means that it can prevent the damage caused to your skin by the sun’s harmful UV rays.
However, the irony of this chemical in particular is that using it over time to prevent the damage caused by the sun, will only lead to the development of the very same health issues that are typically caused by excessive sun exposure.
Among merely causing irritation (such as dryness or itchiness) on the surface of your skin, once oxybenzone penetrates the surface of the skin, it can build up in your body’s organs and increase your general levels of chemical toxicity (basically becoming poisoned over time) and cause your hormones to become imbalanced.
The knock-effects of this can be vast and include lower estrogen levels in women and in turn disrupted menstrual cycles, the formation of breast cancer and reproductive issues such as miscarriages in the worst case scenario.
The Importance of Avoiding Unsafe Chemicals In Cosmetics
After reading through the effects listed below each of the ingredients in this article, I think it’s clear why they should be avoided. The negative effects on your health and general quality of life (not to mention the expensive medications and doctor’s bills further down the line) don’t justify the inclusion of these chemicals in any of the products you may be using at home – regardless of how effective they may claim to be.
If your health really matters to you then avoiding these chemicals is of the utmost importance, as they could make the exercise and conscious eating you do (to stay healthy) completely redundant over time. What a sick irony that would be – to live as healthily as possible, and yet develop some form of cancer later in your life because of the makeup, shampoo or any other products that you used on a regular basis.
I’ve only listed 10 of the most commonly used chemicals that are worthy of dodging at any rate – but there are many others. I say this not to scare you, but rather to give you an idea of just how saturated we’ve become in this sense – it’s hard to see the wood from the trees. So what can you do to make a difference, to make the change? I’ll tell you…
Before and After Natural Ingredients Results
I, like many others upon realizing this everyday conundrum, immediately starting doing research into alternatives and healthier options available to the public in general. I was looking for products that would be just as effective as the chemical-based ones I was so used to, but didn’t come with all the health-related downsides that I was worried about.
I found the solution in natural and organic products – a market that has grown widely in recent years. They offer the same results as your conventional chemical-based cosmetic products, but are specifically designed to be sensitive to your skin and to the environment around you. In my opinion, this makes them far better than your conventional on-the-shelf brands, as they cover both ends of the spectrum.
They are effective and live up to the expectations we have of normal cosmetic products, yet are also safe, and healthy for both us and the environment. The results will speak for themselves though as your skin will feel and look healthier, your complexion brighter and your general sense of well-being will be raised. Although, like any results – they’re best quantified in the real world and with your own, personal experience.
Ultimately, I think most people need less and less convincing in the modern era to make the organic, natural or holistic choice when it’s made available. As the market grows, and public awareness becomes stronger, the gap for providing cost-effective natural products (in the cosmetics industry – or any industry for that matter) becomes more and more of a reality for manufacturers and producers worldwide.
So what can you do to help make the change more viable? It’s really quite simple – make the natural choice and cut back on the likelihood of developing a disease in the future or irritating your skin over time not to mention the money and time you’ll save by not having to buy additional products or medicines to counter the effects of the products you’re used to using. As I mentioned in the paragraph before, the results will speak for themselves.
Read about Palmarosa Essential Oil, Ylang Ylang Essential Oil and Bergamot Essential Oil while you’re here at Innovative Private Label!