Every day we slather, slop and smooth countless products on our skin. Each product we use contains a plethora of chemical ingredients, many of which can cause more harm than good. Next time you head out to replenish your skin care products, keep an eye out for these not-so-good-for-you ingredients.
1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfates
These foaming agents create the lathery suds we associate with cleansers, body washes and shampoos. Don’t be fooled by the bubbles – foaming products don’t actually cleanse any more effectively than their non-foaming counterparts. SESs can irritate your skin, eyes and respiratory system.
Parabens are used as preservatives to extend the shelf life of hundreds of personal care products. This class of preservatives is in the hot seat as it’s been found to interfere with hormones, mimicking estrogens in the body, which could be linked to breast cancer and early puberty in girls.
Petroleum is a by-product of oil drilling and can be contaminated with yucky substances like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). It is used in beauty products to lock moisture into the skin. This creates a plastic-like film, clogging pores and causing toxin build up in the body. As many lip products contain petrolatum we end up unintentionally eating a whole lot of it…doesn’t sound too tasty does it?
Used as a preservative to stabilize products, this family of chemicals can be highly toxic when absorbed into the body. Many companies have made an effort to stop using these harsh ingredients in their products but not everyone has come to the party.
Have you ever wondered how companies make their creams and lotions feel so smooth and velvety? PEGs are used as thickeners and softeners and help carry moisture in your cream-based products. This compound also acts as a ‘penetration enhancer’ allowing ingredients (both good and bad) to be absorbed more easily into the skin. PEGs are potentially carcinogenic and should definitely not be used on broken or irritated skin.
Limiting our exposure to toxic chemicals is easier than you think. I’ve started buying products with shorter ingredient lists and avoiding the chemicals listed above. Another great rule is this: if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, chances are you shouldn’t be putting it on your skin.
Louise Griew is a Toronto-born makeup artist whose second home is Melbourne, Australia. Her work can be seen in national and international advertising campaigns, magazines, music videos and on TV.