Harmful chemicals that are in your ‘natural’ products

‘Natural’ and ‘Organic’ are currently the most popular terms in skincare today. People are switching to natural skincare brands and the trend is only increasing. But what we fail to understand is that a lot of these brands are greenwashing their products. This means that they claim their products are natural and organic when in reality that is only half the truth.

There are several companies in the market that are calling their products natural because it contains one natural ingredient in the smallest quantity might I just say. For instance, it could be just 1% aloe vera gel and it is called a natural product. Some even use buzzwords like ‘Paraben and Sulfate Free’ to label their product to be chemical free. What we do not realize is many may not contain parabens and sulfates but still have all the OTHER harmful chemicals which we are not aware of.

A major problem with the beauty industry is that it is highly unregulated. Most of the products go unchecked and there are no strict laws in place when it comes to ingredients. Here is a list of harmful chemicals that you are unknowingly putting on your skin and should avoid:-

Sulfates
Sulfates are surfactants used in almost everything that foams up such as shampoos, soaps, face, and body wash. The most commonly found sulfates are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). They can irritate the skin and eyes. An even more serious cause of concern is that it has the potential to combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines which are a carcinogen possibly leading to lung and kidney damage.

Parabens
These do a great job at preserving your products, but at a huge cost to your health. Parabens increase your risk of breast cancer as it imitates estrogen properties.

Formaldehyde
This chemical is used to prevent bacterial growth in commodities like nail polish, cleansers, and eyeshadows. However, it is considered to be a human carcinogen and has been linked to certain cancers. It also can affect the immune system and one can develop allergic reactions due to formaldehyde.

Propylene glycol
Propylene glycol is used as an emollient or skin conditioner in products like hair spray, moisturizers, makeup to name a few. This ingredient is proven to be a skin irritant and hence causes dermatitis and hives.

Triclosan
Another antimicrobial chemical with harmful effects, it causes thyroid and reproductive problems. It is present in anti-bacterial soaps and toothpaste. Moreover, there is not enough evidence stating that using triclosan is better than regular soap and water.

Fragrance
This term is actually used for a bunch of harmful chemicals that go into making this ‘added fragrance’. Artificial fragrances can cause allergies, respiratory problems, and even reproductive problems. It can be found in perfumes, colognes, moisturizers to name a few.

Synthetic colors
Unlike natural colors, synthetic colors are made from petroleum and coal tar. They are said to be human carcinogens and has even be linked to ADHD in children. A synthetic color is listed as FD&C followed by the color and number.

Toluene
Also known as Benzene or Methylbenzene, it is a petrochemical derived from coal tar and petroleum. It can cause respiratory problems and should be highly avoided by expecting mothers as it can cause damage to the fetus.

Sunscreen chemicals
Sunscreen shouldn’t be avoided at all costs but there are a ton of sunscreens in the market that contains harmful chemicals like Oxybenzone. Opt for a mineral based sunscreen with nanoparticle zinc oxide.

Of course, we cannot avoid every chemical as they are present in 90% of consumer products. However, we can reduce the amount we expose ourselves to these toxins by being aware and making smarter choices. As much as there are a lot of greenwashed products in the market, a couple of brands are making some great natural alternatives to chemical laden products. Do your research and then buy a product, your health depends on the choices you make!

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