Every day, the average woman applies 515 synthetic chemicals to her body. Products like shampoos, hairsprays, body lotions, deodorants, makeup, and even perfumes contain these harmful chemicals. Linked to a large number of health problems, they cause everything from skin irritation and allergic reactions to cancer and issues having children. There is a lot of concerning research regarding these chemicals, but companies continue to use these dangerous toxins because they are cheap and there are often no laws restricting them (yet).
The best way to protect yourself is to become informed and DIY your own products where possible using natural ingredients. Here are seven dangerous chemicals that are hidden in popular skincare products and how you can identify safer alternatives.
Parabens are cheap preservatives used in a wide range of cosmetic products. They prevent bacteria, mould, fungus, and even parasites from growing. Almost 60% of all cosmetic products contain parabens.
Best Alternatives: Vitamin E, rosemary extract, fermented radish root, grapefruit seed extract, sodium benzoate, and antioxidant oils such as almond, avocado, and hemp seed oil.
Fragrances (or perfume) are in nearly 50% of all cosmetic products. These blends of aromatics, which give beauty products their trademark scents, are often chemical cocktails.
Best Alternatives: fragrance-free or unscented products and high-quality essential oils
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make products more liquid and less dry. You can find these in products like nail polish, detergents, toys, shampoos, creams, and moisturizers.
Best Alternatives: Avoid products with fragrance, use products in glass containers.
Triclosan (also known as Microban) is another chemical commonly used as a preservative in skincare products. Any skincare product that claims to have anti-bacterial properties likely includes triclosan.
Best Alternatives: Essential oils such as thyme, rosemary, lavender, and citrus.
5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is one of the most common ingredients used in shampoos, soaps, body washes, and just about anything that creates a thick foam. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is in up to 90% of skincare products.
Best Alternatives: SLS-free formulations, foam-free natural products, coco-glucoside, decyl glucoside, saponified carrier oils or castile soaps (such as coconut, olive oil, and sunflower oils).
6. Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol (also known as PG) is an ingredient in a variety of liquid skincare products, as well as in antifreeze, brake fluid, and paints. PG may allow harmful chemicals to seep further into your skin and bloodstream than they could otherwise do on their own.
Best Alternatives: Vegetable glycerin.
7. Petroleum & Mineral Oils (Petrochemicals)
Used in skincare products for a variety of reasons, petrochemicals have been linked to major health concerns.
Best Alternatives: Natural moisturizers such as vegetable glycerin, coconut oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, raw honey, and shea butter.