To help our customers navigate their way around some of these ingredients, we have created a list below, showing some of the main culprits and to explain why they are not good for your skin.
Parabens occur naturally in certain plants as a protection system for the plant. But in cosmetics, these are used to preserve a product; to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. The ones used in common skincare products are synthetic (man–made from chemicals) as it is a much cheaper way to produce them. Examples include: methylparaben, proplyparaben, isopropylparaben, and isobutylparaben. If “paraben” is in the word, avoid it. Parabens are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they mimic estrogen in the body and can lead to hormonal imbalances, and possibly even breast cancer. For example, a recent study found concentrations of parabens, specifically methylparaben, in human breast tumors. Another study found 99% of all cancerous breast tumors contained parabens.
Colours & Dyes
There are a number of permitted colourants that can be added to products, but we let our ingredients dictate the colour of a product. Adding a colour to a product has no positive benefit for your skin. We do not add any artificial or synthetic colour to our formulations. Our products colour comes from Old recipes such as “nettle infused” olive oil or simply the colour form the oil. But Creams, lotions and candles re NOT white naturally. s our products are natural they take colour form the plant and oils we sue in them. Calendula will make a balm yellow and Buckthorn is in itself a beautiful red colour. This does not mean your skin will be dyed. It means that you will fully benefit form the plants ingredients.
SLS or SLES
This is an abbreviation of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, sometimes called SLES (sodium lauryl ether sulphate). It is made from palm oil and used extensively in skincare products as a foaming agent. There is a lot of evidence which suggests that it can be a skin irritant and can cause cosmetic dermatitis. SLS/SLES are foaming agents used in a slew of personal care products, including skin care and cosmetics, shampoo, and toothpaste. They are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. Additionally, chemical compounds known as “nitrosamines” are common by-products of the sulphation process. 90% of nitrosamines are believed to be carcinogenic.
Toluene is a chemical commonly found in nail polish and hair dyes. It is a volatile petrochemical solvent that can be toxic to the immune system and can cause birth defects. Because of this, be especially careful and avoid nail polish containing toluene entirely when you’re pregnant.
A substance added to plastic to increase its flexibility. Phtalates can be found in a vast range of products from furnishings to liquid soap and there is a great deal of concern about exposure to this chemical and its links to asthma, endochrine disruption and cancer. Examples include: DBP, DEHP, DEP and others. Like parabens, phthalates are endocrine disruptors and can cause hormonal and reproductive problems and birth defects. Again, this substance is not used in any of our products.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is used is many types of cosmetics as a thickener, especially in lotions, shampoo, and sunscreen. PEG is often contaminated with both ethylene oxide (a known carcinogen) and 1,4-Dioxane (which causes respiratory problems and is banned in Canada). PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. PEGs are commonly used as cosmetic cream bases and are also used in pharmaceuticals as laxatives. Depending on how they are made, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide, classified as a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane which has also been classified as a possible human carcinogen. 1,4-dioxane doesn’t easily degrade and can remain in the environment for a long period after it is rinsed down the drain. It can be removed from cosmetics during the manufacturing process by vacuum stripping, but there is no easy way for consumers to know whether products containing PEGs have undergone this process. Potential cancer causing contaminants are always the primary concern, but PEG compounds themselves also show some evidence of genotoxicity. If PEGS are used on broken skin, they can cause irritation and potential systemic toxicity.
Formaldehyde is a preservative included in many cosmetics products. It’s a known carcinogen that is linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. It can be found in preservatives such as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, and imidazolidinyl urea.
Our products are mainly anhydrous (made without water), or the pH of the formulation means that no preservative is required. Water in most products simply add as a filler and makes a product much cheaper to make. We do have toners that is made of Hydrolates which are Floral waters, so we are legally obliged to add a preservative to avoid Mould and fungus being able to grow in the water. We use a plant derived Eco preservative only. We do not use preservatives such as;
- Methylisothiazolinone – a chemical preservative added to products to prevent unwanted growth of bacteria and yeasts. However, there have been many cases of allergic reactions to products containing this chemical.
The BBC Watchdog article also lists a number of products from face creams to baby wipes that contain this potential irritant.
Oxybenzone (and other chemical sunscreens)
Sunscreens come in two different forms: chemical and mineral filters. The most common sunscreens on the market use chemical filters such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule. Blood tests showed concentrations of oxybenzone were more than 180 times the FDA’s level of concern after a single application, and soared to more than 500 times after 4 days of regular use. This is highly problematic. These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they can block or alter proper hormone function in the body. Oxybenzone, which is found in 40% of chemical sunscreens, is linked to hormone disruption, negative birth outcomes, reduced male fertility, and possibly cancer. In short, this is one of the most important skincare ingredients to avoid! Chemical sunscreens should be avoided at all costs—especially with children! Oxybenzone can also be found in sunscreen, SPF lotions, lip balm, and makeup, and tinted moisturizers. Stick with mineral-only sunscreens, which create a barrier on the surface of the skin to physically bounce or reflect the sun’s rays away from the skin.
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent once used in antibacterial soaps. In 2016, it was banned from soap used in health-care settings, but it is still allowed in personal cosmetics. Not only does triclosan contribute to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Frequently added to handwashes, detergent, wipes, deodorants and many more products as an antibacterial agent. Evidence shows that it can penetrate your skin and is suspected of interfering with hormone function. It also has long term consequences for the environment – so much is used it ends up being washed out into the ocean. This causes pH imbalances for fish and mammals.
You need to look out for ‘Cyclomethicone’ and ingredients ending in “siloxane” e.g., cyclotetrasiloxane. These silicone-based compounds are used in cosmetics to soften, smooth, and moisten. They make hair products dry more quickly and deodorant creams slide on more easily. They are also used extensively in moisturizers and facial treatments.
Mineral oil is a by-product of oil – the black stuff drilled out of the ground and converted into gas or petrol for your car. Other names for it are petrolatum, parafinum liquidum, liquid paraffin or petroleum jelly. It is used extensively in skincare and medical skincare preparations because it is a very cheap moisturising barrier. Unfortunately, whilst a barrier might help reduce moisture loss or protect skin, mineral oil does not allow your skin to breathe. Our skin is one of the ways we eliminate toxins. Covering it up with an unbreathable layer may cause skin to start behaving badly because the skin is prevented from doing what it is meant to do naturally – breathe!
This is by no means a complete list as there are so many potentially harmful ingredients used the skincare industry. Hopefully it gives you an idea of some of the main ones to watch out for! Tina @ Zen Studio