A good skincare regime is essential, caring for and protecting it throughout life. It can help you maintain the elasticity and clarity that gives a younger look, keeping you healthier and making you feel great too. However, the skincare industry is vast, and not everything is at it seems. In fact, some so-called skincare products contain ingredients that may surprise you, including toxins and other components that you would think twice about before putting them on your own skin.
The problem is that these ingredients are not always easy to spot, and many products that on the surface seem like they are great for us can contain the kind of toxins you are looking to avoid. That is why it is so important to make sure that whatever skincare product you use, that you are fully aware of everything it contains, and what that means for your skin.
With few regulations about labelling standards, it can be difficult to separate good products from bad ones, and so this is one area where we as individuals need to take control for ourselves. That means checking every product we use and making informed choices based upon what is actually in these products, rather than what the marketing material tells us. There are a number of ingredients that you should be on the lookout for, here are the most important ones.
We begin with one of the most common problem compounds in skincare products today, Parabens. They are used to prevent a buildup of bacteria and mold within the product, but there are major concerns with them too. Studies have shown that parabens are readily absorbed into the skin and bloodstream, where they stay and build up, with the body unable to use or expel them. In addition, they are thought to have the potential for disrupting natural hormone imbalance, as they can trick our systems into believing that the paraben is actually estrogen. There are also studies that show the presence of parabens in tumors, suggesting a possible link to cancer, although it must be made clear that this has not been adequately proven yet.
These appear on ingredient lists in a number of ways, if the product says Paraben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isopropyl paraben or isobutyl paraben, it is best to avoid completely.
These are used in skincare products to give them a more liquid consistency and avoid the dry feel some skincare products can have. They are used in creams, shampoos, nail polishes and soaps as well as moisturizers, and have been linked to hormonal imbalance and reproductive problems, including birth defects.
You can rarely spot them in ingredient lists, as they tend to be left off. However, look for DBP, DEHP, DEP and other similar identifiers, often listed under the term ‘fragrance’.
Used as a preservative, yes, it’s the same thing used to preserve animal remains in biology class, it has been linked to cancer, asthma, neurotoxicity and developmental toxicity in our bodies. This is one that can often hide in plain sight, hidden under the term preservative in ingredient lists.
Look for labels such as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, Paraformaldehyde, Methylene Glycol and imidazolidine urea, which all contain formaldehyde, and avoid products with them.
4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
This is a substance that creates a thick foam, and so it is prevalent in soaps, shampoos, body washes and other products that use a foaming action. This is an ingredient that itself causes few problems for your skin or body, although it can cause skin irritation in some. However, it is a problem in other ways. The manufacturing process for SLS creates toxic contaminates known as nitrosamines that studies have linked to kidney and liver defects and are also carcinogenic, and so should be avoided if possible.
This ingredient also appears under the name Microban, and it is another type of preservative commonly used in skincare products. It is often found in anti-bacterial soaps and other cleaners such as hand sanitizers, but there are issues. Not all bacteria are bad for us, and by using Triclosan, which indiscriminately kills all bacteria, we can be causing problems that bacteria actually help with.
In addition, there is scientific evidence that such prevalent use of Triclosan is leading to the emergence of superbugs, bacteria that are immune to antibacterial treatments which can cause other issues. Triclosan itself has been connected with hormonal disruption and a weakening of the immune system, and it can build up within fat cells and enter the blood system.
These are just some of the chemicals and compounds that you should avoid in skincare products, there are others that many affect you too. The key is to know what you are buying, check ingredients, look at reviews and be aware of what is actually inside of the product. It may claim to be natural and kind, but that does not mean it is free from chemicals like these. Never buy without checking ingredients, it is crucial for your own health that you take responsibility for the products you use to care for your own skin.