8 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid
Good skin epitomizes good health. It is the first layer of ourselves which we expose to everyone we meet. The external ‘us’ symbolizes our true state of being, one that denotes how we care for ourselves.
However, with all the attention on optimum skin health, do you really know what is in your skincare? Most of the products we purchase have names and words that are beyond our comprehension. To add salt to injury, they plaster pictures of beautiful women with great skin, to denote that our skin has potentials of looking the same with their skincare. Then there is the tough choice of choosing ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ skincare treatments. And by taking away all the attention from the high-sounding ingredients, we apply these potions believing that we are on our way to fairer skin.
Also known ad the third kidney which eliminates toxins from our system, skin also absorbs substances into our system and our blood stream via hair follicles, skin lipids and pores. One simple example of this is the usage of nicotine patches on the skin – these patches are supposed to reduce the urge to smoke. If the urge to smoke can be curbed merely by sticking a few plasters on the skin, it tells you in volumes what the skin is doing for our system.
Since skincare and cosmetics are a way of modern life, it is time we discover what is it that we are putting on our skin. The best gift you can give yourself in terms of being prudent about your skincare is to be label-savvy. Learn to discriminate and avoid ingredients that are potentially harmful to your skin and know that the term ‘natural’ does not mean ‘coming from mother earth’! Empower yourself with what’s safe and what’s vogue with these 8 harmful skincare ingredients to avoid list.
#1 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid – Mineral Oil
A petroleum derivative used in baby oils and in most moisturizers. It is not easily absorbed by the skin, instead it merely creates a film on the skin layer, leaving a greasy residue and over time, causes dry skin and skin irritation.
Alternative – Combinations of cold-pressed certified organic seed or nut oils containing fatty acids such as jojoba, olive, rosehip and evening primrose. Easily absorbed, these oils are non-greasy and they help nourish the skin.
#2 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid – Propylene Glycol
One of the most commonly used emulsifiers, it is petrochemical derived from propylene alcohol that is easily absorbed by the skin and the scalp. Linked to abnormalities in the liver and the kidney, blocked pores and blemishes, it is the major component of brake and hydraulic fluids.
Alternative – Vegetable glycerin, which is readily absorbed by the skin without side effects.
#3 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid – Sodium Lauryl / Laureth Sulfate
A synthetic wetting and cleansing agent, it can be found in almost all commercial brand shampoos and toothpastes.
Alternative – Polyglucose, soap wort or coconut oil, made from saponification reaction of fats with potassium and sodium. Having less sudsing action, they are safer and gentler on hair and on the environment.
#4 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid – Talc
The main ingredient used in face powders, its structure and molecular size is similar to asbestos. Commonly used in babies in the genital areas, it has been linked with ovarian cancer and is a known carcinogen when inhaled.
Alternative – Corn or rice starch powder.
#5 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid – Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA, which are used as emulsifying agents, solvents and are found in most shampoos. Studies have shown that DEA-related ingredients have been known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Alternative – Vegetable glycerin (not glycerol!), a wetting or carrying agent that has safely been used in cosmetics formulations for generations.
#6 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid – PVP-VA / Copolymers
The plastic in hair products that coat hair with a hard film, it is suspected to have carcinogens and may cause asthma when inhaled.
Alternative – aloe vera, acacia and tragacanth are natural polymers that have been safely used for centuries.
#7 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid – Synthetic Fragrances
May be a blend of 600 different chemicals, they have been known to cause allergic sensitivity and irritation.
Alternative – Pure essential oils, extracts that are derived from flowers and plants. Containing therapeutic effects, they have been known to soothe and calm the body, mind and spirit.
#8 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid – Methyl- / Propyl- / Butyl- /Ethyl-parabens
Commonly used as cosmetic preservatives they destroy enzyme activity and bacteria in products. They are highly toxic and are the leading cause of contact dermatitis.
Imidazolindinyl and diazolidinyl urea, synthetic preservatives that are commonly found in shampoos and soaps, they are formaldehyde-releasing agents, which are cancer causing agents. It is usually listed as ‘formalin’.
Alternative – Tea tree or citrus extract. Both are known to have antimicrobial, anti-fungal and antioxidant agents respectively. They are effective in both water and oil-based cosmetics and can preserve cosmetics safely for up to a year or more.