10 Synthetic Ingredients To Avoid
For those with super sensitive skin...
...or those who prefer to indulge their bodies in the purest of ingredients, looking for 100% natural skincare and haircare products can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. A long awaited shopping trip turned into a nightmare of frustration.
Believe it or not, there was once a time (several hundreds of years ago) when natural ingredients were the norm and people had beautiful healthy skin and long, strong hair. My, oh my – how times have changed!
...if you want 100% natural products, you have to be willing to seek them out. Learn to read labels and refuse to settle for half-natural skincare and haircare.
Yes, reading product labels can be daunting, especially when they list ingredients you can barely pronounce (there’s a reason why you dropped Chemistry, right?).
But, fear not. Help is at hand.
We’ve compiled a handy little list for you (courtesy of Aubrey Organics). The “10 Most Wanted” (most wanted synthetic ingredients to be seen OFF the labels of so-called natural skincare and haircare products).
METHYL, PROPYL, BUTYL, AND ETHYL PARABEN
These are used as inhibitors of microbial growth in order to extend the shelf life of products, i.e. they are used as preservatives. They have caused many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Studies have shown that they are weakly estrogenic and can be absorbed by the body through the skin. They are widely used even though they are known to be toxic.
DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA), TRIETHANOLAMINE (TEA)
These are often used in cosmetics as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents. They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. DEA and TEA are “amines” (ammonia compounds) and can form cancer-causing nitrosamines when they come into contact with nitrates. They are toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.
DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA
These are widely used preservatives. The American Academy of Dermatology has found them to be a primary cause of contact dermatitis. Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II and Germall I15. Neither of the Germall chemicals are good antifungal agents so they must be combined with other preservatives. Both these chemicals release formaldehyde which can be toxic.
SODIUM LAURYL/LAURETH SULPHATE
This is a cheap, harsh detergent used in shampoos for its cleansing and foam-building properties. Often derived from petroleum, it is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the phrase “comes from coconuts”. It causes eye irritation, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, skin rashes and other allergic reactions.
Also known as petroleum jelly, this mineral oil is used for its emollient properties in cosmetics. It has no nutrient value for the skin and can interfere with the body’s own natural moisturising mechanism, leading to dryness and chapping. It often creates the very conditions it claims to alleviate. Manufacturers use petroleum because it is unbelievably cheap.
Ideally this is a vegetable glycerine mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural. Usually, it is a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant. It has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema. When you see PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol) on labels, beware – these are related synthetics.
A petroleum derived chemical used in hairsprays, styling aids and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic since inhaled particles can damage the lungs of sensitive people.
This is a quaternary ammonium compound used in hair conditioners and creams. Developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, it is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which are beneficial to the hair. Causes allergic reactions. Toxic.
Used to make cosmetics “pretty”, synthetic colours, along with synthetic hair dyes, should be avoided at all costs. They will be labelled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a colour and a number, e.g. FD&C Red No. 6/D&C Green No.6. Many synthetic colours can be carcinogenic. If a cosmetic contains them, don’t use it.
The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way of knowing what the chemicals are, since on the label it will simply read “fragrance”. Some problems caused by these chemicals include headaches, dizziness, rash, hyper-pigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation – the list goes on. Advice, don’t buy a cosmetic that has the word “fragrance” on the ingredients label.