It is quite alarming to know that the skin absorbs up to 60 percent of the chemicals in products that it comes into contact with directly into the bloodstream. Thus, it is important to ensure that what we put on our skin should be as clean as the food that we eat. While it’s impossible to avoid every single synthetic chemical, you can still do your part in limiting the amount of toxins your body is exposed to by reading labels carefully and avoiding the list of chemicals below.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
Be cautious of these chemicals called BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), which are often used in hair products. They are similar to carcinogens which are known to cause cancer. On a hazard scale of 1 to 10, BHA & BHT ranks high at 10. These chemicals accumulate in the body and can cause immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, developmental toxicity, reproductive system toxicity, cancer, and organ system toxicity. To avoid these, skip shampoos with butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) listed on labels.
Polyethylene glycol, or PEG, is also thought to interfere with the body. It contains a “developmental toxicant,” which means that it may interfere with human development. It’s also known to be contaminated by the aforementioned cancer-causer dioxane.
The word fragrance may sound safe but it is an umbrella term for about 100 ingredients. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. It can be found in many products such as perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash, and moisturisers. Thus, while it isn’t very toxic, it is best to avoid synthetic fragrances and opt for those which use natural fruit or flowers instead.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
Around 90 percent of skincare and cleaning products contain SLS. They are known to cause lung, skin, and eye irritation. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. These combinations can lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. They can be found in shampoo, body wash/cleanser, mascara, and acne treatment.
Triclosan is added to skin care products as a preservative. However, it has a similar harmful effect as xenoestrogens. It is also associated with immune system problems, weight loss, and uncontrolled cellular reproduction.
Heavy Metals, such as Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, and Aluminium
With accumulations in the body over time, heavy metals can impair the brain and nervous system, disrupt hormones, and potentially cause cancer. Cosmetic skin lightening products containing these ingredients are illegal. If you come across any products that are very convincing but contain mercury, it is better to avoid them completely.
Educate yourself and do your research before you buy any skincare product. Because your best face forward is also dependent on what you put on it!
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Photo credits: Eau Thermale Avene and Unsplash