6 Chemicals To Avoid In Cosmetics
| Written by Harmini Asokumar
When it comes to what we put in and on our bodies, there's no denying they will have an effect on it and that shouldn't be taken lightly. This is why there's a constant push for the consumption or usage of natural and organic products, as they are healthier, safer options. However, going green and organic isn't always an easy alternative, especially when it comes to beauty products and makeup. As most makeup in stores and the shelves of pharmacies have been approved as safe, more often than not we don't check the ingredients used, and some could cause major damage to the skin in the long run. We've listed down some of the chemicals that you should keep an eye out for.
This is probably the most well-known and used preservative when it comes to cosmetics. Though it can occur in a natural way with food, the ones used for cosmetics have been done chemically, which makes it unsafe. Parabens used in cosmetics and beauty products bypass the metabolic process as it's applied on the skin and it enters the blood stream, as well as organs, intact. Research has shown that it has the ability to mimic estrogen therefore interferes with hormone functionality.
Another commonly used preservative, urea is a waste compound produced by the body when the liver breaks proteins down. It is then excreted by the kidneys in the urine. It can also be excreted through sweat, therefore this whole process is considered organic and natural (read: healthy when it's natural). The ones used for beauty products however are created in a lab, chemically. The reason this is used in products is that urea allows the addition of other chemicals and fragrances while keeping the pH balance. It also has the ability to alter your skin to allow certain chemicals to penetrate deeper into the skin, making the product more 'effective'. It is said that urea may produce formaldehyde, which is a human carcinogen. It also has the tendency to cause allergic reactions, and skin and eye irritation.
PEGs, short for Polyethylene Glycols, is petroleum based and used in many liquid or cream-based cosmetics. It is basically a chemical used that can enable most ingredients (including the bad ones) to penetrate the skin which in turn leads to some pretty serious skin damage in the long run. It could also be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane which, based on research, could cause cancer.
Petrolatum is a petroleum by-product that is used in a lot of skincare products. It’s basically a mineral oil jelly that can lock moisture in hair and skin. Petrolatum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and studies suggest that exposure to this is associated with cancer. Although no direct links have been shown between petrolatum and cancer, the European Union did find the need to put numerous grades of petrolatum on a list of dangerous substances, with strict guidelines regarding which types were permitted.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are commonly used in shampoos, cleansers and any product that needs a foamy, bubble effect. It's been proven that these can in the long term cause respiratory tract issues and affect the liver. Though considered safe by cosmetic ingredients standards, it can cause irritation for the skin and eyes.
Diethanolamine (DEA) is used to make products creamy and foamy. In cosmetic products, it works as a pH adjuster as it help downplay other acidic contents of ingredients. DEA can be harmful as it can react with other chemicals to form carcinogenic compounds. They can also cause skin and eye irritation. Lab studies have shown that prolonged exposure to DEA can cause liver cancer and also precancerous changes to the skin and thyroid.