Cosmetic ingredients you need to avoid

What types of ingredients should I look out for on skincare/cosmetics

If a product has been labelled as “natural” or “organic”, check the ingredients list because that will be the only way to tell if the product is actually all natural or not. There are a number of ingredients which are known irritants, have controversial adverse (irritant) effects or have possible carcinogenic effects and they should be completely avoided:

  • Colourants – colours can be added to enhance the look of products and can be either natural or synthetic. The following are the synthetic colourants which cause some controversy in their usage, due to possible adverse effects (being irritants, carcinogenic):
    • Coal tar – there are concerns about this ingredient being carcinogenic; it is normally added to black or dark brown hair dyes

     

  • Emollients – these are substances that help in spreading the moisturising lotion/cream on the body. The following are the synthetic colourants which are not advised:
      • butyl glycol – this is an irritant for sensitive skins, may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals and it may also be carcinogenic; it also has restrictrions in cosmetic use
      • hydrogenated oils – depending on the type of hydrogenated oil in the product, it may be an irritant for sensitive skins, may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals and it may also be carcinogenic; it also has restrictrions in cosmetic use
      • mineral oil – depending on the type of mineral oil in the product, it may be an irritant for sensitive skins, may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals and it may also be carcinogenic; it also has restrictrions in cosmetic use
      • monostearate dimethicone – there are some restrictions in cosmetic use
      • oleth 2 – is linked to organic toxicity as well as contamination concerns with other toxic substances
      • paraffin – may be carcinogenic, has some organ system toxicity and is hazardous for workers who handle it
      • petrolatum – may be carcinogenic and has some organ system toxicity
      • stearic acid – may be carcinogenic and has some organ system toxicity


    • Fragrances – these are added to almost all cosmetic products to help them smell nice. There are some types of synthetic fragrances that should be avoided:
      • amyl acetate (banana scent) – this is an irritant, especially to the skin, eyes or lungs of sensitive people
      • benzophenone (rose scent) – this is an irritant for sensitive skins, may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals and it may also be carcinogenic
      • coconut fragrance – this is an irritant for sensitive skins and may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals
      • cucumber fragrance – this is an irritant for sensitive skins and may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals
      • various synthetic fruit fragrances – synthethic fragrance is an irritant for sensitive skins and may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals

       

    • Preservatives – are added to cosmetics to enable a longer shelf live and to prevent bacterial growth. The preservatives to avoid are:
      • butyl paraben – parabens are part of the chemical group which contain phthalates, endocrine disruptors which may adversely affect women, girls and young babies especially; there is a lot of concern about their involvement in breast and prostate cancers
      • dazolidinyl urea – this possible animal product (from animal urine) is an irritant for sensitive skins, may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals and it may also have a link with cancer
      • ethyl paraben – parabens are part of the chemical group which contain phthalates, endocrine disruptors which may adversely affect women, girls and young babies especially; there is a lot of concern about their involvement in breast and prostate cancers
      • methyl paraben – parabens are part of the chemical group which contain phthalates, endocrine disruptors which may adversely affect women, girls and young babies especially; there is a lot of concern about their involvement in breast and prostate cancers
      • propyl paraben – parabens are part of the chemical group which contain phthalates, endocrine disruptors which may adversely affect women, girls and young babies especially; there is a lot of concern about their involvement in breast and prostate cancers

       

    • Solvents – these are used to help dissolve one or more substances together which helps to get a uniform lotion, cream or gel. The synthetic solvents to avoid are:
      • acetone – this is an irritant, causes allergic reactions, may have development/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity and possible carcinogen
      • benzene – this is an irritant, causes allergic reactions, may have development/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity and possible carcinogen and it is prohibited/restricted in cosmetics due to its adverse health effects
      • butylene glycol – this is an irritant, may have development/reproductive toxicity and neurotoxicity
      • propylene glycol – this is an irritant, causes allergic reactions, may have development/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity and possible carcinogen and it is prohibited/restricted in cosmetics due to its adverse health effects
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