20 Mar Nasties Added To Skincare Products
**Parabens** A common and widely used preservative found in cosmetics and skincare products. They are used to kill bacterias and fungus that can form in products causing them to spoil. They are commonly found in everything from shampoos, toothpastes, makeup, spray tans and are even used as food additives. Parabens, or to give them their scientific name – esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid, are thought to cause problems because they mimic the estrogen hormone and have been found in breast cancer tumours. It is also thought that they may cause early puberty in girls.
**Sulphates** These come in many different guises: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, and sodium C14-16 olefin sulfate, surfacants or surface active ingredients. Phew! They’re used in shampoos and face washes because they’re excellent at cleaning things. Unfortunately, they strip hair and skin of natural oils, leaving them dry and damaged. Many people find that using sulphates can cause skin irritations or even give them an allergic reaction.
**MIT (Methylisothiazolinone)** This commonly used biocide is used as a preservative in personal care products, giving them a much longer shelf life. Unlike some preservatives, however, MITs have been shown by some studies to cause damage to brain cells. Cosmetic companies claim that the chemical is only used in low doses in rinse off products like shampoos, handwashes, bubble bath and laundry detergents but studies have indicated that even brief exposure to MIT is toxic in low concentrations and may increase the risk of seizures and visual abnormalities.
**Artificial Fragrances (Parfum)** Added to lots of cosmetic and skincare products to make them smell nice, artificial fragrances have been found to cause allergic skin reactions in many people. This wide variety of chemicals, often cloaked and protected by the law as “trade secrets” are often derived from petroleum by-products. These types of protected fragrances are not required to list the concoction of chemicals on the product label, they are only required to list the term “fragrance”.
**Artificial Colours** Found in anything from lipsticks to foundation, skin cream to mascaras – some artificial colours have been linked to a wide range of conditions including allergic reactions, migraines and adversely affecting vital organs. Experts can’t agree which colourants are the worst for you, as some are banned in one country and available in others, but one thing they do agree is that consumers accidentally eat these chemicals in surprisingly large amounts over their lifetimes.
**Lanolin** A moisturising agent which comes from sheep sweat, nice! The ingredient is extracted from wool because of its effectiveness as a moisturiser and is used in skin products, lotions, creams and baby oils. In most cases it can be used safely on the skin but it is poisonous when its ingested. Although not common some people experience allergic reactions from coming into contact with lanolin.
**SD Alcohol** Used as a solvent by the skincare industry, SD or Specially Denatured Alcohol, is pure alcohol that has been doctored so that it tastes really bitter. This is done so that alcoholics don’t misappropriate the medicine cabinet and while it isn’t a nasty for this reason in particular, it has been known to cause dry skin.
**Isopropyl Myristate** Used in cosmetics primarily to assist in helping another product to be absorbed, Isopropyl myristate or butylstearate is used in the treatment of head lice, as well as mouthwash. It can cause dry skin, clogged pores, acne and inflammation, although it is not considered to be carcinogenic.
**Formaldehyde** Used as a preservative in a wide range of cosmetics, formaldehyde has been linked to many adverse reactions including difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest, rash, hives, swelling of the mouth, face, lips and tongue, fatigue, dizziness, reduced limb strength, headaches, throat irritation, excessive phlegm, diarrhoea, vomiting and more. Formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
**Diazolidinyl Urea** a formaldehyde donor, details as above.
**Petroleum By-Products** Petroleum by-products are used in just about every type of product conceivable, in skin care products it often appears as petroleum jelly or parafin wax. Petroleum by-products have been found in breast tumours and has been shown to cause premature skin ageing and acne. It is also known to have an occlusive effect on the skin, not allowing skin to breath normally and decreasing its ability to absorb oxygen into the bloodstream.
**Animal Derived Products** Many people agree that animals should not have to die so that humans can enjoy a happy life, sadly many skincare products contain animal products, often concealed with fancy sounding names. Ambergis, for example, is sperm whale vomit, while civet is an extract of a cat-like creature’s musk sac – both of which are used in the fragrance industry. Tallow, which is meat waste from slaughterhouses or butchers, is often used in hand soaps.
**Animal Testing** Harm is done to animals while being subjected to tests for hypoallergenic properties in cosmetic products used by humans. If the products we use didn’t contain questionable chemical compounds in the first place then we wouldn’t have to put up with this questionable practice either.