10 Harmful Ingredients Commonly Found in Skincare and Makeup
by Team Yours JN |
We're all guilty of one or the other:
Not paying closer attention to the ingredients that go into our skincare and makeup
Knowing that there might be some harmful ingredients in the products we use, but turn a blind eye anyway, because often it's too much of a hassle
Amidst our work and daily to-dos, taking time to find out what goes into the stuff we put on our face every day is like one of those 'Important, Not Urgent' tasks we never check off. We're procrastinators, we get it.
We hate to say this, but ignorance isn't bliss. Here's why:
As much as 60% of what you apply to your skin, gets absorbed by it.
Some ingredients found in these products have been linked to serious issues like cancers, tumours, hormonal imbalance, irritability and reactions, reproductive problems, and so on.
We've compiled a list of ingredients to watch out for in any beauty product.
Ingredients to Watch Out For
Parabens are preservatives and keep products from growing bacteria. They also mimic estrogen in the body, leading to a host of problems like hormonal imbalances, breast tumours, and reproductive disorders.
Watch out for: Words with the suffix paraben; examples include Isobutylparabens, Methylparaben, and Propylparaben.
Ethanolamine is an ammonia compound that’s clear and colourless. It reduces the surface tension of substances so that water-soluble and oil-soluble ingredients can blend together. Found in facial cleansers, shampoos, soaps, and household detergent, Ethanolamine is also responsible for creating foam, which often leads us to believe in the efficacy of a product. Studies show that it is responsible for cancers and reduced brain development.
Watch out for: The abbreviations DEA (diaethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine).
Also known as plasticisers, phthalates improve the flexibility and strength of plastics. They’re especially found in products infused with fragrances, hair sprays, and nail paint. Just like Parabens, phthalates is an endocrine disrupter and can cause hormonal and reproductive problems.
Watch Out for: DBP, DEHP, DEP, DMP amongst others.
4. Synthetic Fragrances
Although innocent-sounding, scents and fragrances are usually made up of chemicals. Anything that’s 'artificial' or 'synthetic' should always make you think twice!
Legally, companies are not required to disclose what goes into the fragrances that make their products smell so good— it's proprietary. This means you never really know what are inside these concoctions, that will end up going on to your skin.Scary, right?
Tip: Buy fragrance-free skincare or skincare that discloses the real scents that are used.
Watch out for: Fragrance, Perfume, Parfum
5. BHTs (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
BHTs are synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. BHT is banned from foods in a number of countries like Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and all throughout Europe. However, companies continue to use it skincare, posing great risks to hormonal balances and the liver’s functioning.
Watch out for: BHT, Butylated Hydroxytoluene
Often used in products for oily and acne-prone skins, BHA has been classified as a human carcinogen (capable of causing cancer). Research has also found it to cause skin de-pigmentation, alone with interfering with the reproductive system.
Watch out for: BHA, Beta Hydroxy Acid, Butylated Hydroxyanisole
7. Siloxanes (Silicones)
This is a chemical that’s highly functional, and boosts the performance of cosmetics. It performs the functions of softening, smoothening, and moisturising. In hair care, it is known to reduce frizz and increase shine. However, studies have found that siloxanes are endocrine and nervous system disruptors.
These compounds also do not entirely break up or dissolve when we wash it off— resulting in toxicity in our wastewater, posing risks to fish, wildlife and the environment as a whole. Moreover, when siloxane mixes with other harmful chemicals in our water waste, it forms dangerous chemical substances that are often difficult to treat.
Watch out for: Ingredients ending in -iloxane and -methicone, -icone (dimethicone)
Widely utilised as a preservative in chemistry labs, formaldehyde is a colourless, flammable gas commonly used in industrial fungicide, germicide, disinfectants, and cosmetics. It is often used as a preservative to kill, prevent or inhibit microorganism growth in products, and is a known carcinogen suspected to exacerbate asthma, joint pains, dermatitis, nausea, etc.
Watch out for: Formalin (formaldehyde in a water solution), DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium -15, Methenamine, amongst many others.
9. PEGs (PolyEthylene Glycols)
PEGs are petroleum-based compounds used as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. They’re commonly found in lotions, scrubs, toothpaste, and sunscreen, but come with a set of risk factors. In addition to making one susceptible to cancer, it hampers the skin’s natural ability to produce moisture, causes irritability, and also pollutes the environment.
Watch Out for: PEG, Polyethylene Oxide, variations of glycol
10. Triclosan (TSC)
An antimicrobial agent, Triclosan was initially developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals but can be found in consumer products like soaps, detergents, cleansers, toothpaste, and similar products. Triclosan and its derivatives lead to hormonal disruptions, a weakened immune system, and environmental toxicity (bioaccumulation).
Watch out for: Triclocarban (TCC)
This list of 10 harmful ingredients only barely scratches the surface, and we get that it's extremely tedious to go through the list of ingredients (what more in tiny print).
However, the trick is to finding the right brand and staying with it especially once you know the products work.
Instead of getting overwhelmed at a cosmetics store and feeling the pressure to cross-check ingredients, always remember that alternatives like clean, personalised skincare exist. We are all unique, and so are our skin needs. 😉