As consumers, we’ve become increasingly aware of how the way we eat affects our health, so it’s no surprise that we’re also becoming equally cautious about the products we use on our face and how they can affect us beneath the skin.
We’re breaking down the top negative offenders on skincare ingredient lists so that you can be more educated in your search for the perfect skincare for your skin and health goals.
Avoid: synthetic parabens
What they are: parabens are a group of synthetic compounds commonly used in a wide range of health, beauty and personal care products as preservatives. They work by preventing the growth of mould and bacteria in the product.
Why they’re harmful: parabens are known to enter your body through the skin and are believed to disrupt hormone functions due to their estrogen-like properties.
How to find them on labels: look out for methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben on the label of your products.
What they are: like parabens, petrochemicals are commonly used to extend the shelf life of cosmetics, as well as to water down and improve the texture and consistency of products. The majority of petrochemicals used in skincare today come from petroleum (yep - the stuff we put in our cars, ick).
Why they’re harmful: Research has shown that petrochemicals can become contaminated with a substance called 1,4-dioxane, which is a carcinogenic impurity known to cause cancer in laboratory animals, and have a negative effect on the kidney, respiratory tract and nervous systems.
How to find them on labels: look out for propylene, ethylene, butadiene, benzene or xylene on the label of your skincare products.
Avoid: SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate)
What they are: SLS is one of the most highly used sulphates in skincare and is an aggressive artificial detergent used for cleansing and to create a greater lather like formulation in products. Because of this, it’s often found in cleansers.
Why they’re harmful: sulphates can cause varying levels of skin and eye irritation, often dry out the skin, and some people have even found that they can lead to skin conditions like acne and eczema getting worse.
How to find them on labels: sulphates refer to a number of ingredients but the most common three are: sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) and ammonium lauryl sulphate (ALS).
What they are: phthalates are chemicals used as softeners and are traditionally used to soften plastic (need we say more…). They also act as a binding agent in many different types of beauty products.
Why they’re harmful: phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which means that when they’re absorbed from the skin into the body they act as estrogens that interfere with metabolism and normal hormonal function.
How to find them on labels: look out for dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, and fragrances on your skincare ingredient list. Phthalates can be added to fragrance without being disclosed so avoid products with fragrances as well.