Ingredients to avoid:
The list below shows some of the most common synthetic ingredients known to cause health problems, but still used:
Parabens are a group of preservatives widely used in cosmetics, foods and drugs. The most common parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben. Often more than one is used.
Generally they are non-irritating, but have the ability to mimic estrogen (a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancer) and disrupt hormonal balance.
They became highly controversial after a research (UK, 2004) has found parabens in breast cancer tumors. Although industries argue there is not enough evidence for connection between parabens and breast cancer, some cosmetic companies have already removed them from their ingredients list.
2.Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS):
A commonly used ingredient in cleaning and foaming products like shampoo, hand wash, bubble bath, shower gel, dishwashing liquids etc. It is known as skin irritant and is used throughout the world for clinical testing as a primary skin irritant. Its other applications are in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers, car-wash soaps, etc because of its corrosive and de-greasing properties.
Studies indicate that SLS penetrated into the eyes, brain, heart and liver, and show long-term retention in the tissues. It is especially harmful to young children's eyes – if it penetrates it may prevent eyes from proper development.
It dries both skin and hair by stripping away the protective lipids from the surface of the skin and attacking the follicle of the hair.
Most dangerous of its properties is its ability to react with many types of ingredients in skin products and form nitrosamines (nitrates), which are suspected carcinogens. Because of the alarming penetrating power of SLS, large amounts of these possible carcinogens are absorbed through the skin into the body.
A variation of SLS is Sodium Laureth Sulphate which is the milder version, but still has most of the dangerous effects.
3. Propylene Glycol:
Propylene Glycol (PG), Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) and Ethylene Glycol (EG) are all petroleum derivatives that act as solvents, surfactants and wetting agents. they can easily penetrate the skin and weaken protein and cellular structure.
Propylene Glycol is used in anti-freeze, brake and hydraulic fluids, paints, floor wax and numeorus personal care products such as toothpastes, shampoo, deodorants, lotions, laundry detergents, even baby products like wet wipes. Propylene Glycol is one of the most common humectants in cosmetics (a substance that helps retain moisture content, or keeping the product and the skin moist). It’s Material Safety Data Sheet warns to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as it is a strong skin irritant and can cause contact dermatitis, liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
PG is used in food industry too as preservative (cake mixes, salad dressings, soft drinks, pop-corn) and preventing freezing (ice-creams).
4. Phthalates (Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Diethyl Phthalate (DEP), Butylbenzyl Phthalate (BBP))
Phthalates are industrial chemicals used as solvents, skin penetration enhancers or humectants and emollients in many cosmetics products like hair sprays, deodorants, nail polishes and perfumes. Phthalates are also employed as plastic softeners in many other products, including children’s toys and medical devices.
Researches show that when DBP is added to a skin product allergic reactions are more severe due to its ability to deliver the other ingredients deeper into the skin. Phthalates are shown to damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive systems in animal studies.
Phthapates are banned for use in cosmetics sold in European Union since 2003.