We all try to buy better and more consciously when it comes to our personal products. As we learn more about our world and investigate further into the effects certain ingredients can have on our bodies, it can become a minefield of what you should be looking for. We’ve compiled a list of commonly used ingredients and the reasons why we should try to avoid them in our skincare.
Collagen is promoted in many skincare products to increase the elasticity of skin and reduce the signs of ageing. As an animal derived ingredient it can cause allergic reactions. It has also been known to increase calcium levels and have implications on gut health.
Lanolin is an ingredient that has caused many skin irritations including redness and burning in more severe cases. Lanolin comes from sheep’s wool and as farmers increase their uses of pesticides and other chemicals on their farms, cross contamination can occur.
Keratin can be derived from the feathers, horns, hooves, beaks and wool of different animals and used as an ingredient in hair and skincare products. Keratin is used to increase the effectiveness of the outer layer of skin protection. However, hydrolysed keratin is processed using acid and heat that denatures keratin, making it ineffective and harmful to our skin.
Chemicals used to create fragrance have caused a multitude of problems and with companies only having to state on their packaging the ingredient 'artificial fragrance’ we often don’t know what chemicals are being used. Some of these highly toxic compounds can cause allergic reactions, disrupt hormones, trigger asthma or be neurotoxins or carcinogenic.
Phthalates are synthetic chemicals that are used to plasticise a product and are often found in perfumes. They have been banned from being used elsewhere like food containers and children’s toys because of their effects on growth and reproductive health. They are known to disrupt the endocrine system and this can cause problems in fertility and metabolism.
Parabens act as a preservative in many products, preventing mould growth and extending the shelf life. A 2004 study showed how parabens enter our skin and it’s link to cancerous growth in the breast tissue. Although the link has been made, it still needs further research but it’s advised that we should avoid products that contain parabens.
Read more on the concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours.
SLS and SLES
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are commonly found in skincare products that target oils and act as foaming agents. As their objective is to remove dirt, they strip the skin of it’s natural oils too. This can cause irritation, sensitivity and redness by removing the protective layer of the skin.
Mineral oil is derived from petroleum. Although refined and filtered to make it safe for human use there's still speculation about it causing hormonal disruption. Mineral oil coats the skin, not allowing it to breath or absorb moisture in it’s natural way, therefore cell development slows down and skin can age prematurely.
There are many ingredients that can cause us more harm than good. Many studies are continually evolving so we can gain more knowledge on their effects.
Our best choices to keep our skin healthy is to choose natural, organic and safe skincare products with as minimal man made ingredients as possible.