The Hateful 8: toxic ingredients in skincare products

2 min read

What you put on your skin ends up on the inside, so you need to take a long, hard look at the ingredients list on your everyday beauty and grooming products.

“You don’t want to overload your body with toxins,” says Chey Birch, creator of Black Chicken Remedies™ all natural skincare. “Be smart about the choices you make and check the label before you buy.”

Your skin is the largest respiratory organ of your body and it absorbs what you put on it into your system for your kidneys and liver to deal with. While exposure to toxins is a fact of modern life, Birch says you can limit damage by scrutinising the labels on products you apply to your skin including shampoos, cosmetics and make-up.

Chey Birch’s hateful 8 cosmetic nasties to avoid like the plague

1.    Parabens. Chey says they are easy to identify because the listed ingredient will probably include the word ‘paraben’. The problem with this low cost preservative is that parabens mimic hormones, interfering with your own hormonal functions, and research suggests they may be carcinogenic.

2.    BHA and BHT are commonly used as preservatives in skin creams. As skin creams are made from a mixture of oil and water, as soon as you add water you are potentially raising bacteria so these compounds help guard against this, Chey explains. They are antioxidants, which sort of sounds good, but they are also known as possible carcinogens.

3.    DEA, MEA and TEA are detergents commonly used to make shampoo, facial cleaners, body washes and to make bubble baths foam up. DEA in particular is easily absorbed by the skin and all three ethanolamines commonly turn up in cancers.

4.    Phthalates, listed as MEP, MMB and MIPB, are common preservatives in skincare products but, on close examination, exhibit nasty characteristics, causing, according to BirthDefects.org, birth and reproductive defects in males, according to Birth Defect Research for Children, and increased risk of asthma and respiratory problems in children.

5.    If you thought urea was as good for your skin as it is as fertiliser, think again. On product labels this usually refers to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives – yes, that stuff they pickle specimens in! It’s known to be responsible for ear, nose and throat problems, respiratory problems and cancer, Chey warns.

6.    Fragrance. Unless the product is made with essential oils the fragrance is derived from chemical compounds called esters. The Environmental Working Group has conducted extensive research into the role of esters in triggering allergic reactions and asthma. Some are associated with cancer, Chey warns.

7.    You wouldn’t put antifreeze on your face, would you? Well then, don’t buy products with the acronym PEG on the label. It’s a name for glycols used to stop products from liquefying and to assist absorption by the skin, and propylene glycol is antifreeze. Not surprisingly it can cause cancer.

8.    This last nasty is a real concern, Chey says, because it is so common in baby products: mineral oil or paraffin is a cheap petroleum by-product that acts as a moisturising barrier. It also causes inflammation of the body, a precursor to cancer. Plus it’s made from crude oil, hardly a clean or glamorous substance so don’t buy into the advertising from luxury brands who pack their products with this toxic ingredients.

For a list of ingredient full names, click here.

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This information is current as at 15/08/2016.

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