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harmful chemicals in skincare

The beauty industry has a dark, ugly secret that no one wants to talk about- harmful ingredients in skincare products. It does not matter what the big words on the box say- regular skincare products contain harmful chemicals that actually speed up the formation of wrinkles and age spots. 

These skincare products might smoothen and brighten your skin temporarily, but in the long run, they disrupt hormones and eventually leading to infertility or reduce fertility. If you have ever taken a look at the ingredients list of a skin care product package, you are likely to end up confused. With such long, scientific names, it is nearly impossible for a person to get a clear idea of what is included in the product. To help you out, we have listed out the most common harmful chemicals in skincare you need to keep an eye out for. These are among the toxic 20 substances that a good natural face wash or any other product ideally avoids.

  •   Parabens 

Parabens are preservatives used in cosmetic products to stop the development of yeast, mold, and bacteria. But why are parabens considered harmful? Parabens contain properties like estrogen that can increase the risk of breast cancer. The chemicals have been identified in breast tumor samples as they can be absorbed by the skin. These are present in deodorants, body washes, facial cleansers, makeup, and shampoos. 

  •   Synthetic Colors

Have you noticed the letters D&C or FD&C on the product label? These letters are preceded by a color and a number. These colors are usually derived from coal tar and petroleum sources. Synthetic colors can increase the risk of ADHD. 

  •   Fragrance

Now, this ingredient gets customers all confusing. How do you define fragrance? The fragrance contains everything that the company wants to hide from their customers in the name of “secret formula”. As a customer, you might be applying chemicals on your skin every day that is hazardous. Fragrance leads to allergies, respiratory distress, and dermatitis. It can be found in perfume, shampoo, and moisturizers, etc. The advice is to buy products that are fragrance-free.

  •   Phthalates

Phthalates are used to improve the flexibility and mildness of the plastics. The most common phthalates used in skincare products include nail polish containing dibutyl phthalate, hair spray containing dimethyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate in perfumes. This leads to the early development of breasts in girls, breast tumors, and birth defects of the reproductive system. The fragrance is one of the major loopholes in the regulations. Companies don’t have to list every single chemical as it goes under the ‘secret formula’.

  •   Triclosan

Also known as the endocrine disruptor, Triclosan is a skin irritant that can cause thyroid. It is found in antibacterial products like Sanitizers, and deodorants. Triclosan is even linked to cancer and endocrine disruption.

  •   Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)/Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) 

Available in the majority of personal care products, the sulfate is known to irritate lung, skin, and eye irritants. The most important concern regarding SLS is that it interacts and forms Nitrosamines after combining with other chemicals. This combination of SLS and Nitrosamines leads to other issues, including kidney and breathing issues. These are found in mascara, body wash, and shampoo.

  •   Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is used as a preservative in various skin products to prevent the growth of bacteria. The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) deemed Formaldehyde a human carcinogen. It is found in nail polish, conditioners, shampoos, eye shadows, etc. The chemical has been related to nasal, nasopharyngeal, and even cancer. It can cause skin allergy by attacking the immune system. 

  •   Toluene

It is derived from coal tar or petroleum sources. It is usually listed as Toluol, benzene, methylbenzene, and phenylmethane. Found in nail polish, nail treatments, and bleaching products, Toluene affects the respiratory system, causing nausea and skin irritation. Exposure to vapors might affect the fetus, so expecting mothers should avoid exposure.

  •   Propylene Glycol

It is commonly used as a conditioning agent for skin. It is a skin penetrator and an irritant. It has been linked to diseases like Dermatitis and can also cause hives. Found in conditioners, hair sprays, moisturizers, shampoo, makeup products, and sunscreen, even a low concentration of propylene glycol can have a sensitization effect on the skin. 

  •   Sunscreen chemicals

The chemicals used in sunscreens are endocrine disruptors and are very easily absorbed by the body through the skin. These chemicals are used as a sunscreen agent to absorb UV light. More common names include PABA, homosalate, methoxycinnamate, benzophenone, and avobenzone. Instead, sunscreens based on minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safer and should be used.

In this world, where we are surrounded by chemicals, it is impossible to avoid every harmful synthetic chemical, but what we can do is limit the number of harmful ingredients in skincare and follow a healthy lifestyle. Always eat clean, avoid processed food, drink plenty of water, and use certified natural products like a day cream that does not contain any of the toxic 20 ingredients.

Do your research before buying any product. So, next time a salesman knocks on your door and makes you try a new cosmetic product from company “X” with a big secret “Fragrance”, tell him no thanks and opt for a natural product containing no toxic 20 chemicals for a better alternative.

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