The labels on modern cosmetics promise wrinkle free skin, radiance from within, a youthful glow… but at what cost? The industry is so unregulated that it has become impossible to believe the claims that manufacturers make about their products. A word such as “natural” can mean many things. Even “organic” is not as it seems. To us, ‘organic’ means certified organic ingredients, but did you know that a company can use this claim if there are only 70% certified organic ingredients in the product? That means that the remaining 30% could be made up of very nasty toxins! When you consider that your skin absorbs 60% of what you put on it, this is an alarming fact!
How To Avoid These Toxins?
The only thing that we can do to protect ourselves is keep an eye on the list of ingredients used… And to assist, we have provided a list, which we use religiously in our Detox Center in Phuket, according to Gillian Deacon’s 2011 book There’s Lead in Your Lipstick: Toxins in Our Everyday Body Care and How to Avoid Them.
- Coal Tar: A known carcinogen banned in the EU, but still used in North America. Used in dry skin treatments, anti-lice and anti-dandruff shampoos, also listed as a colour plus number, i.e. FD&C Red No. 6.
- DEA/TEA/MEA: Suspected carcinogens used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps.
- Ethoxylated surfactants and 1,4-dioxane: Never listed because it’s a by-product made from adding carcinogenic ethylene oxide to make other chemicals less harsh. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found 1,4-dioxane in 57 percent of baby washes in the U.S. Avoid any ingredients containing the letters “eth.”
- Formaldehyde: Probable carcinogen and irritant found in nail products, hair dye, fake eyelash adhesives, shampoos. Banned in the EU.
- Fragrance/Parfum: A catchall for hidden chemicals, such as phthalates. Fragrance is connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma, and allergies.
- Hydroquinone: Used for lightening skin. Banned in the UK, rated most toxic on the EWG’s Skin Deep database, and linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity.
- Lead: Known carcinogen found in lipstick and hair dye, but never listed because it’s a contaminant, not an ingredient.
- Mercury: Known allergen that impairs brain development. Found in mascara and some eyedrops.
- Mineral oil: By-product of petroleum that’s used in baby oil, moisturisers, styling gels. It creates a film that impairs the skin’s ability to release toxins.
- Oxybenzone: Active ingredient in chemical sunscreens that accumulates in fatty tissues and is linked to allergies, hormone disruption, cellular damage, low birth weight.
- Parabens: Used as preservatives, found in many products. Linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity.
- Paraphenylenediamine (PPD): Used in hair products and dyes, but toxic to skin and immune system.
- Phthalates: Plasticisers banned in the EU and California in children’s toys, but present in many fragrances, perfumes, deodorants, lotions. Linked to endocrine disruption, liver/kidney/lung damage, cancer.
- Placental extract: Used in some skin and hair products, but linked to endocrine disruption.