Harmful chemicals found in everyday cosmetics are potentially toxic and carcinogenic, but also carry environmental risks. Ingredients such as petroleum, aluminium and lead require extensive mining in areas such as the Amazon rainforest, stripping the land of vital wildlife and forestry.
In recent years, consumer awareness has increased, putting pressure on companies to reformulate products and provide transparency of ingredients used. This has prompted moves such as Target’s pledge to reduce carcinogenic chemicals from its all its products in 1,800 stores by 2020, and Walmart’s aim to find replacements for eight chemicals, including formaldehyde and triclosan, in its formulations, a move that affects 90,000 products.
Outlined below are the key things to look out for, and the crucial reasons why using organic products, which avoid these chemicals, makes sense:
- Parabens: In the 1990s, parabens were found to be present in malignant breast tissue, and research has shown they mimic oestrogen in the body, linked to reproductive issues. Although they are present at low levels in common products, they are worth being mindful of.
- Phthalates: These are used extensively in cosmetics and have been linked to cancer and type II diabetes. Nearly 30% of the cosmetics that we use on a daily basis contain carcinogens in them.
- Lead: Studies have revealed common branded lipsticks contain small amounts of lead in them. Although in small amounts, this means you could consume lead while eating or drinking.
- SLS: Sodium laureth sulphate (SLS) is a foaming agent found in many personal care products, such as shampoos. The ingredient has proved harmful, as well as stripping hair and skin of natural oils.
- Aluminium: Common deodorants contain aluminium, a chemical which is not only responsible for the destruction of wide swaths of rainforests, but research has linked it to certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is worth looking out for organic ingredients in cosmetics where you can. Cocoa butter is a great organic ingredient, providing nutrient rich oils for youthful skin, while natural ingredients such as white tea and pomegranate provide antioxidant protection and inhibit ageing. Similarly, Vitamin C has been demonstrated to shield you from the sun. All these ingredients are good for sensitive skin and are less harsh than their non-organic counterparts.