Updated: Jun 27, 2019
In today’s modern world, chemicals are inevitable ingredients in our cosmetics and skincare. What we can do is to make informed decisions in deciding what we put on our skin and what we allow to be absorbed into our body.
Cosmetic and skincare users these days are more conscious and aware of what goes into their skin compared to few years ago. Brands today no longer just list down ingredients in their products. These days, brands have to emphasize on what ingredients are NOT in their products to attract health-conscious buyers and users.
Below are some of harmful chemicals to look out for when choosing your cosmetics and skincare. Essentially all these toxic chemicals are either irritants, allergy inducing or worse,linked to having carcinogenic effect, potentially causing cancer. They are able to penetrate through our skin, absorbed into our body and into our blood and tissues.
1 Parabens – Anything with-paraben in the ingredient list is all related. They’re used as preservatives to prevent mold and bacteria growth in products.
2 Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – This is easily found in cosmetics and beauty products as it is what makes the product foam and lather up. It also functions like a detergent, good at removing oil, including natural oil. If you have sensitive or dry skin, avoid SLS as it is harsh in nature. It can irritate and over-dry your skin, especially after prolonged use.
3 Hydroquinone - This is a popular ingredient for products promising to reduce age spots, hyperpigmentations and deal with skin whitening. Aside from being linked to cancer, it can also cause Ochronosis, a skin disfiguration and darkening condition especially after discontinued use.
4 Tretinoin – Found in rapidly effective creams to treat acne and reverse signs of aging such as wrinkles, sun spots and blemishes. Side effects include conjunctivitis, facial swelling and burning, and even breathing problems.
5 Mercury - A very famous ingredient in anti-aging and skin lightening/whitening products. It is actually a highly toxic metal. It is so harmful that even being exposed to it by touching the skin of a mercury product user can lead to health risks. One can even inhale the fumes released by mercury in the product. Mercury poisoning not only affect the nerve system, but can also be fatal. If used by pregnant women, it can even affect the child’s brain development.
6 Synthetic Colours – If we worry about food colouring in our food, we definitely have to worry about synthetic colours in our cosmetic and skincare. Plenty of studies and test prove link to different types of cancer and even neuron problems.
7 Formaldehyde – Another ingredient used as preservatives just like parabens. High content and prolonged use can lead to severe health problems. Salon workers have claimed respiratory problems and even nose bleed since they are exposed to products with such toxins daily at work.
8 Phthalates –You either see this or fragrance on the ingredient list. Either way, avoid it. It is highly toxic and lead to high health risks including respiratory problems, birth defects, cancer and reproductive toxicity.
9 Triclosan - This is usually present in antibacterial products. The downside of antibacterial is that, it can kill the protective bacteria causing our body to easily be susceptible to infections. It is also suspected carcinogenic and can accumulate in our body after prolonged use.
One tip worth knowing: when reading through the ingredient list of a product, know that the highest content will be listed first, and lowest content last. So, make sure these harmful chemicals are either not in the list, or at least at the most end of the list. While we can’t entirely avoid all these chemicals, we can maybe limit them. At the very least, we know which ones are harmful and to avoid.