200 is the average number of harmful chemicals a women – you and I will expose our skin to each morning in our normal beauty routine! That’s considering your toothpaste, shampoo, styling products, make up, body moisturiser. This scary statistic is one of the reasons I believe that we need to protect ourselves against harmful chemicals in beauty products so let me advise you on how to know which products are safe and which are not!


There are two things we can do to protect ourselves from the harmful chemicals in products.  Firstly it is a legal requirement that all cosmetic companies disclose their ingredients; listed on their product packaging or inside the outer carton.  The ingredients are listed from the largest quantity within the products to the smallest with the most harmful chemicals usually subtly listed within this ingredient list.  The harmful chemicals can be in large or small quantities so always ensure you read the small print.  Secondly and most importantly we need to be aware of what these potentially damaging chemicals are.


What are the harmful chemicals sitting on our dressing table?  There are lots of harmful chemicals within products that we should avoid putting on our skin.  For example Parabens are chemical preservatives, which are used a lot in skin, hair & nail care and even baby products.  However there are so many natural plants like Rosemary for example, which can be used as preservatives instead of using parabens.  Thankfully the natural alternatives to parabens are becoming more readily used now in the world of cosmetics.


Another two substances, which we should avoid, are artificial colours & fragrances. These can irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions. Some artificial colours have been linked to hyperactivity & attention deficit disorder within children. Artificial fragrance is present in the majority of products under the blanket term, ‘Parfum’. Children in particular tend to be more sensitive to fragrances and can develop allergic reactions easily.


Lanolin is another commonly used chemical.  It is a fatty substance extracted from wool – basically sheep’s sweat which is taken from their wool and added to oily products like foundation, lipstick and moisturisers.  It is a particularly horrible substance as it contains traces of sheep dip.  Unfortunately these chemicals appear in so many products, which we are exposed to everyday.


A colourless liquid or crystalline alcohol called DEA or TEA (di- or tri-ethanolamine)
is used as a solvent, emulsifier and detergent (wetting agent). It works as an emollient in skin softening lotions or as a humectant in other personal care products. A problem arises when combined with an ingredient, which acts as a nitrosating agent, such as 2-bromo-2-nitro-propane1, 3-diol, or if they are contaminated with a nitrosating agent, e.g. sodium nitrite 3. Although there is no proven link to cancer in humans, evidence exists showing they are carcinogenic in animals.


Mineral Oil and Petroleum-derived ingredient are very common and problematic. They are a derivative of crude oil, mineral oil forms an oily film over skin to lock in moisture. Initially it will leave your skin feeling silky smooth. However it traps in toxins and hinders normal respiration by keeping oxygen out. This can exacerbate skin disorders such as eczema. Mineral oil is found in many products including baby oil and bath and body oils. Petrochemicals used in beauty products and toiletries include compounds such as Propylene Glycol, SD Alcohol and Benzene. Benzene is used as a solvent in lacquers and nail varnishes. It is highly toxic even in tiny quantities and has carcinogenic properties. Propylene Glycol can cause contact dermatitis.


Finally SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)
 is a detergent found in approximately 90% of commercial shampoos, including “no more tears” baby shampoos as well as toothpastes, bubble baths and shower gel. It makes a product bubble and foam. It is a caustic cleanser that can cause irritation to the scalp, eyes and skin. According to the Women’s Environmental Network there is some evidence to suggest reproductive effects and damage to liver, lungs & immune system.

There are a lot more troubling ingredients but these are the most common offenders sitting in our bathrooms today!


Organic solutions…
Don’t panic there are ways to avoid subjecting our skin to the chemicals.  There are some fantastic brands out there who understand that we don’t need to exposure our skin or health to all these chemicals.  Look out for brands that are accredited by the Soil Association or similar organic accreditation bodies.  We can trust these accreditation marks because their standards are high and the companies that are awarded them are serious about avoiding the use of potentially damaging chemicals and providing better, healthier products. Another good tip is, if your are using products that hide their ingredient list or have an ingredients list with text that is too small to read easily, question whether this brand is hiding something.  Learn what chemicals we want to avoid and if they appear on the ingredient list don’t use the product, find a natural or alternative product.


Don’t accept what a product box says- challenge the purpose of ingredients in the products you are using everyday!

Love Lucy A x