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Buying skincare this Christmas? Check the ingredients first.

Thinking of skincare this Christmas? Before you’re tempted by skincare spin this festive season, be sure to check that these five ingredients are not included on the ingredients label. Whether you are buying skincare for yourself or as a gift for someone else, the most thoughtful skincare gift is one free from harmful chemicals and toxins. 

If your skincare product lists ethyl, butyl, methyl and/or propyl on its
ingredients label, you may want to return the product to the shelf. Known more commonly as parabens, these ingredients are found in 99% of leave-on products and in 77% of rinse-off products with concentrations up to 0.8% of the product. They are used as low-cost, synthetic preservatives and microbial agents for personal care, pharmaceutical and food industry products to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus. Parabens are considered xenoestrogens, a type of synthetic compound that imitates oestrogen even though they differ chemically from the natural hormone
made in the body. Research has shown that parabens play a role in stimulating cell proliferation of human breast cancer cell lines, and they have been indicated in precocious (early) puberty in children, infertility, disorders of the reproductive system and even skin cancer.

Toluene is derived from crude oil and the tolu tree is used to make products such as paint thinners, detergents, glues and adhesives. It’s also commonly used in nail polish to create a smooth looking finish. The primary route of exposure is through inhalation and skin and eye contact. It is a known irritant and can cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, pain, redness and swelling, and may even cause effects in unborn children. Toulene can also be found on ingredients lists as benzene, methylbenzene, toluol and phenylmethane.

Fragrance or parfum
They might sound harmless enough but did you know that these ingredients may actually comprise several potentially harmful chemicals that are labelled together under the banner of fragrance or parfum? This is all thanks to a legal loophole that enables companies in Europe to avoid listing the presence of allergens in their products when concentrations exceed 0.001% in leave-on products and 0.01% for those that are rinsed off. This sure does make it difficult to make an informed judgement about your personal care product, so it’s probably best to avoid anything with fragrance or parfum in the ingredients list, just to be sure.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
PEG is a petroleum-based polymer used in skin care and cosmetics, among other things as a thickener, solvent, softener, emulsion stabilizer, surfactant and fragrance ingredient. Repeated or prolonged skin contact may lead to irritation and contact dermatitis and will have a degreasing action on the skin. It is possible that during the manufacturing process traces of ethylene oxide may remain in the final product. These have been associated with allergies, cancer, neurotoxicity, immunogenicity and effects on pregnant women.

These dangerous preservatives may be listed on your ingredients label as DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, Bronopol, 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1, Hydroxymethylglycinate and should be avoided where possible. Formaldehyde is best known for its use in embalming chemicals, however it is found widely in nail polishes and hardeners, eyelash glues, hair gels, soaps, makeup, shampoos, body lotions and deodorants. Formaldehyde is released slowly in small amounts thanks to preservative action, and helps fight against product contamination from bacteria. Unfortunately, the chemical and its preservative helpers have been strongly linked to leukaemia, pancreatic and skin cancer, skin irritation and cirrhosis.

This blog post appeared first in the Bee Loved Skincare Blog.

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