Is our beauty regime toxic?
"If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack." Coco Chanel had a point. Yes beauty is only skin-deep and of course it’s what’s inside that really matters but let’s be honest. A dab of lippy or a spritz of perfume can go a long way in to making us feel good, inside and out.
But Coco had no idea what chemicals might have been lurking in that lipstick or what it might have done to her skin. And given the skin is our largest organ we should be treating it with the care it deserves. Yet whilst we are constantly preoccupied with what goes into our bodies we seem to be less mindful of what goes on top.
Most of us assume a shop-bought shampoo or moisturiser is not just safe, but actually good for us. Well the fact is we don’t know for sure and until these skincare and make-up products are properly regulated, consumers are forced to apply their own commonsense and judgement. In other words, we need to read the label. Yet the unfamiliar and unpronounceable product ingredients would bamboozle even the most discerning of customers – it’s a language unto itself.
Thankfully here at The Well Store we speak that language and we’re here to name and shame our 7 deadliest sinners when it comes to beauty and skincare ingredients.
- Parabens (for example methylparaben, proplyparaben, isopropylparaben, and isobutylparaben)
Banned in Europe these suckers are still found in the Australian market in products such as moisturiser, shampoo and make-up. Designed to reduce bacteria they have been found to disrupt hormones and have also been associated with breast cancer. If paraben is in the wording, just avoid it.
Healthy alternative: Paraben-free products using antioxidants, vitamin E oil, and rosemary oil extract or anti-microbial substances, such as grapefruit seed extract.
Unfortunately fragrance is found in most conventional skincare and cosmetic products. With no manufacturing regulation in place, ‘fragrance’ can literally mean anything goes - many perfumes and formulations are considered “trade secrets” with no disclosure required. Fragrance or ‘parfum’ on a product ingredients list could be a concoction of irritants, allergens, endocrine disruptors or carcinogens, so buyers beware!
Healthy alternative: natural perfumes, fragrance-free or unscented products and high-quality essential oils.
- SLS & SLES (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
These foaming agents can be found in skincare and cosmetics as well as shampoo and toothpaste. Associated with skin irritation and allergies, by-products of the sulphation process are also believed to be carcinogenic.
Healthy alternative: SLS and SLES-free formulations, foam-free natural products, or soaps with ingredients such as coconut, olive and sunflower oils.
Just the word formaldehyde conjures up images of preserved frogs in a biology classroom! Found in nail polish, cleansers and mascara, this by-product of conventional preservatives (such as bronopol, quaternium-15, and diazolidinyl urea), rears its ugly head the longer your product sits on the shelf. It’s a known carcinogen, and is linked to asthma, neurotoxicity and skin irritations.
Healthy alternative: natural preservatives.
- Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP)
Also banned in Europe, these bendy offenders are added to plastic to keep it from becoming brittle! Mostly found in lotions and perfumes, deodorant, nail polish and hairspray, phthalates are associated with endocrine disruption and reproductive issues.
Healthy alternative: Fragrance-free products, natural perfumes and avoid plastic packaging.
- PEGS – Polyethylene Glycol
Polyethylene glycol acts as a thickener in products such as lotions, shampoo and sunscreen. Those ‘cute’ little microbeads found in scrubs and cleansers, as well as toothpaste, are made from polyethylene and are associated with carcinogens and skin irritation. What’s more they are a pollutant. Tiny plastic particles travelling unfiltered into our waterways, into the mouths of fish and other marine life.
Healthy alternative: Natural ingredients, particularly nuts or coffee grounds in exfoliators.
This tricky customer is commonly found in soaps, hand sanitizers and even toothpaste. In fact most skincare products claiming to have antibacterial properties will likely contain triclosan. Yet its antibacterial properties kill both good and bad bacteria and triclosan has been associated with natural hormone disruption and weakened immune systems. That’s a no from us!
Healthy alternative: Good quality essential oils such as rosemary, lavender or citrus.
Bottom Line: Always read the label
Coco Chanel once claimed that a woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future – she obviously wasn’t well versed in the dangers of phthalates at the time. Thankfully by making informed choices we no longer have to compromise our health for the sake of beauty. Check out our full skincare and beauty ranges and be safe in the knowledge that your future can be fragrant and healthy all at the same time!
For a more comprehensive list of toxic offenders check out our nasties page.