Are your Skincare and Personal Care Products Safe?
This article explores the linkages between synthetic chemicals used in personal care products and the inherent risks.
Check what you are buying
Do you check your skincare and personal care products' ingredients before buying them - or fall for the marketing gimmicks and hardly care about what chemicals they contain?
Today, the majority of skincare companies add harmful chemicals or filler ingredients to their products. Through good advertising and flashy packaging, they avert consumers’ attention from reading a list of chemical ingredients used in making these products to their enticing offers.
It means we spend a fortune trying to look younger but end up getting chemical-laden products to put on the largest organ of our body - which is the skin. These chemicals can not only remove the skin's natural oil but also can disrupt our hormonal balance by entering our bloodstream through the skin, changing the levels of reproductive hormones.
Excessive and prolonged use of chemical-laden skincare and personal care products can lead to breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to a George Mason University study published by Sciencedaily.
According to another report published by Harvard Medical School, these products are not 100% safe. But since they grace the shelves of the supermarkets and major department stores, people think they are. These products are still in the marketplace as people are still unaware of their harmful effects, and the parent companies of these products only test to ensure that they don’t cause any harm in the short term. Nobody cares about long-term effects until there is a severe condition. However, people are gradually starting to join the dots when it comes to long-term health.
These chemicals are easily absorbed by our skin and enter our bloodstream. Some of the most dangerous chemicals used in these products are Parabens, Sulphates, Phthalates, Triclosan and Propylene Glycol.
The main nasties
1 Parabens—These are synthetic preservatives used in personal care and skincare products, foods, pharmaceutical products, etc., to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungus, and mould. They are mainly used to increase the product’s shelf life. Methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben are some of the names of parabens used in cosmetics.
These preservatives have estrogenic properties which can be stored in human tissue, like breast tissue. When accumulated in our body, they increase the level of oestrogens and disrupt our hormonal balance, according to NCBI.
2 Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS): The main use for SLS in products is to create lather, giving a stronger impression of cleaning power.
According to Healthline, “SLS is used in shaving cream, lip balm, hand sanitizer, nail treatments, makeup remover, foundation, facial cleansers, exfoliants, liquid hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dye, dandruff treatment, styling gel, toothpaste, teeth whitening products, mouthwash, bath oils or salts, body wash, and bubble bath, lotions, such as hand cream, masks, anti-itch creams, hair-removal products, and sunscreen.
It can create irritation in eyes, mouth, skin, and lungs and can even cause acne by clogging skin pores, according to Healthline.
It is always recommended to use natural skincare or personal care products that do not contain SLS. They will simply not lather as much but will still perform to clean hair and skin just the same without SLS. Plus, Sulphates are environmentally unhealthy. They pose a danger to aquatic life once released into the water stream.
3 Phthalates: These chemicals are used in personal care products to give them a smooth texture, such as aftershaves, shampoos, soaps, perfumes, and hair spray.
These are suspected endocrine and reproductive disrupting chemicals. Too much exposure to this chemical can lead to early puberty, infertility, fetal abnormalities, skin and breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, autism, cardiotoxicity, asthma, and allergy, according to NCBI.
4 Triclosan: This chemical is used in some personal care products to kill bacteria like antibacterial soaps, body washes, toothpaste, and some cosmetics.
FDA observed that over-exposure to triclosan could decrease some thyroid hormones, and consistent exposure can make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. An FDA study is also investigating the possibility of developing skin cancer.
5 Propylene Glycol: This chemical is used as an artificial food additive in personal care products due to its dissolution of some substances better than water. It also helps retain moisture and improves the texture, flavour, appearance, and shelf life of the personal care products. It is used as an anti-caking agent, antioxidant, emulsifier, stabilizer and thickener, according to Healthline.
Due to these chemicals’ ability to dissolve substances better than water, they can be easily absorbed by our skin, creating allergies, irritation and immunotoxicity. In addition, there are some minor possibilities of neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption. Therefore, it is recommended not to apply any products containing this ingredient on injured, cracked or burned skin.
How to reduce chemical exposure
1 Educate yourself: You can easily identify the right products for you if you know the ingredients. Natural ingredients are safe for the environment and your body. Fully natural products like natural skincare and natural hair care have no nasty synthetic chemicals.
It would be best if you stay abreast of the latest reports, government regulations, and news on these chemical-based products and their effects. Recently, there was news that the cosmetics most widely used in New Zealand are alarmingly using “forever” chemicals or PFAs. A study in the US has called for regulation on the use of these chemicals.
“Forever” chemicals don't break down in the environment or in the body. They are the same chemicals that are used in non-stick cookware like Teflon. Research on these topics can help develop insight into whether your product is safe or harmful.
2 Use chemical-free and natural products: It is essential to choose natural skin and hair care products that are 100% free of synthetic chemicals. They are pure and act as superfoods. These products help nourish the skin with the right nutrients and work to retain natural oils and moisture. Natural antioxidants present in the Vision Products’ natural product line help slow down the ageing process, rejuvenate the skin, and make you look young. Some natural and wild harvested ingredients are almond oil, carrot oil, calendula extract, shea nut butter, the camu camu and acai.
The other key factor is that a general responsibility is bestowed upon us to protect our environment. Eco-friendly products like Vision Products are good for our health and that of the environment at the same time. Vision Products is also eco packaged, labelled, and uses refill, recycle systems.
Natural preservative: Vision Products natural skin care line uses a natural preservative called Totarol, a rare phytochemical with potent anti-oxidant properties. It comes from the recycled bark of the New Zealand totara tree. Vision Products believes in making products with natural ingredients, and a natural preservative is key to enable formulations to preserve those natural ingredients. Totarol used in Vision Products’ natural skincare increases the shelf due to its anti-bacterial properties- hence you get natural and long-lasting skin.
Ayurveda: It is important to know about nature, well-being, and its benefits. Therefore, reading about Ayurveda which talks about nature, herbs, yoga, and meditation can help us maintain good health.