- We may be absorbing up to 2 kilograms of chemicals into our body each year
- The average woman wears nearly 515 chemicals a day
- Our skin absorbs as much as 60% or more of the topical products placed on our body
To what extent are chemicals in skin care a problem?
It is claimed that women who are using make up on a daily basis are absorbing almost 2 kilograms or 5 lb of chemicals per year into their bodies.
Most people use cosmetics and other personal care items without a second thought, believing that none of the chemicals will penetrate their skin and hence they have nothing to worry about. However, studies suggest that our skin, the largest organ in our body, absorbs close to 60% of the topical products with which the skin comes into contact.
According to a survey of 2300 people, conducted by Skin Deep, on average, respondents use nine products daily. Alarmingly, 25% of the women surveyed applied 15 or more products each day, containing 126 unique ingredients. Some studies suggest we may be wearing nearly 515 chemicals per day.
What toxins should you be looking out for?
It can often be confusing to know what to avoid. In general it is best to avoid any ingredient, natural or synthetic, which can poison the environment or cause harm to human health. I provide further detail on why you should avoid the below ingredients in my blog post “Toxic Beauty”. This includes ingredients which have been proven toxic and mutagenic in animal studies, and includes:
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) / Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and other sulfate-based detergents: These are used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and 90% of personal care products that foam. Eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhoea and skin and eye irritation have been linked to their use. Not only are they harmful, they are also extremely drying to the hair and skin.
- Propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol and various ingredients formulated with PEGs and PGs: PEGs have been found in everything from personal care products, baby care and sunscreens. They act as binders and plasticize ingredients. Dioxin is a by-product of the process used to create propylene glycol. Dioxin has been linked to cancer, reduced immunity, nervous system disorders, miscarriage and birth deformity.
- Parabens (methyl, butyl, ethyl, propyl): Parabens are preservatives and allow skin care products to survive for months or even years in your medicine cabinet. They are used in deodorants and other skin care products and have been found in breast cancer tumours. Parabens are known endocrine disruptors that have been linked to cancer and hormonal imbalances.
- Phtalates (DBP, DEP, DEHP, and DMP): Phthalates are most often used to create fragrances in cosmetic products. They are known endocrine disruptors.
- Synthetic (FD&C and other) dyes and colourants: Synthetic colours from coal tar contain heavy metal salts that deposit toxins in skin, causing skin sensitivity/irritation. Absorption can cause depletion of oxygen, and animal studies show the majority are carcinogenic.
- Benzyl Peroxide: This is predominantly used in acne products and may act as a mutagen, producing DNA damage in human and other mammalian cells.
- DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) and TEA (Triethanolamine): This foam booster is a skin irritant and causes contact dermatitis. It is easily absorbed through the skin to accumulate in body organs and the brain.
- Formaldehyde: Has many uses but is most often used in cosmetics as a disinfectant and preservative. Be cautious of products containing 1,4-dioxane, as this can also release formaldehyde in certain chemical processes. Formaldehyde is a caricinogen, skin, eye and lung irritant.