You’ll be surprised to learn that some skincare ingredients may not be doing you any favours.
First cosmetics appeared over 7000 years ago. Since then, the world of skincare has changed a lot but it is still evolving. New ingredients are constantly being discovered and tested. Others are proved to be ineffective or downright harmful and are banned for future use.
Just like years ago some creams had mercury in them and lipsticks contained lead, the industry still incorporates a host of chemicals into its formulas. Yet the truth is there is very little government regulation in the cosmetic industry. And every now and then dermatologists and scientists sound the alarm. The good news is that there are plenty of options on the market nowadays. All you have to do is look out for some ingredients.
We name three controversial ingredients that may not be that great for you to use.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
This is the product used in shower gels, shampoos and cleansers. Often controversial due to its origin (sulfates are derived from petroleum), the highest risk of using sulfates is that they may irritate your eyes, skin and lungs (1). This usually happens with long-term use and is a concern for those who have sensitive skin. Another interesting fact is that SLS is so known to cause irritation, it’s used as a positive control in dermatological testing. This means that when new products are being tested to see how irritating they may be, they are compared to SLS. We'd rather stay away from it for now.
To make the creams smell nice, brands add frahgrances to them. That rose perfume? It could be a mix of up to 3,000 different chemicals. Their function is to cover the smell of chemicals used in the product or just to make use more pleasant. Here’s what we are not told. Ingredients may say parfum was used, but the actual chemicals used are not disclosed to the buyer. Fragrances are linked to a shocking number of health risks. Across multiple research studies, chemicals used to make perfume are classified as allergens, hormone disruptors, asthma triggers and neurotoxins. Basically, they are toxic. So look out for fragrance free products next time.
AKA the kings of preservatives. Parabens have many bactericidal and fungicidal properties, making your products last longer. A large number of medical associations say that parabens are safe, but in reality we know little about their long-term effects. Some reviews found that even low doses may have adverse effects on human health. Parabens are also linked to hormone disruption.
If you are worried about a particular product, or would like to learn just how "natural" you skincare actually is, you can use the Environmental Working Group's search engine. Thousands of products are listed and analysed to show you just how toxic they may be.