LOOK FOR - Fragrance, perfume, parfum, aroma
FUNCTION - Fragrance is defined as a combination of chemicals that gives each perfume or cologne its distinct scent.
HEALTH CONCERN - Some have evidence linking them to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.
LOOK FOR - Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben
FUNCTION - Parabens are preservatives used in a wide variety of personal care products to prevent the growth of microbes. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals can be absorbed through skin, blood and the digestive system.
HEALTH CONCERN - Endocrine disruption, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity.
LOOK FOR - Petrolatum, Petroleum Jelly, Paraffin Oil, Mineral Oil
FUNCTION - Derived from petroleum, it is often used in personal care products as a moisturising agent.
HEALTH CONCERN - Cancer. The primary concern with petrolatum is the potential contamination with PAHs (when not properly refined).
LOOK FOR - Phenoxyethanol, 2-Phenoxyethanol, Euxyl K® 400
FUNCTION - Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative in cosmetic products and also as a stabilizer in perfumes and soaps.
HEALTH CONCERN - Allergies, nervous system effects.
LOOK FOR - Phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance
FUNCTION - Widely used in scented products to help the scent linger, although it is rarely found on labels because it is a constituent of the ubiquitous ingredient “fragrance.”
HEALTH CONCERN - Endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer.
LOOK FOR - Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.
FUNCTION - They help prevent microbes from growing in water-based products.
HEALTH CONCERN - These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to cancer and allergic skin reactions.
LOOK FOR - PEG-(followed by a number), polyethylene glycol, PPG, polypropylene glycol.
FUNCTION - These petroleum-based chemicals are used to thicken, soften, and help products to retain moisture.
HEALTH CONCERN - They cause skin irritation and system toxicity, especially when used on damaged or broken skin.
8. SULFATES (SLS, SLES)
LOOK FOR - Sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium lauryl ether sulfate, anhydrous sodium lauryl sulfate, and irium.
FUNCTION - Penetration enhancers, detergents (foaming), they attract both oil and water allowing dirt and grime to be lifted from the skin.
HEALTH CONCERN - Strip natural oils from skin, causing dryness, allergic reaction, and irritation.
9. CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS
LOOK FOR - Oxybenzone, Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate), Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Avobenzone
FUNCTION - UV protection, skin damage (ageing) protection
HEALTH CONCERN - Mimic estrogen in the body, potentially causing hormonal disruption.
LOOK FOR - Dimethicone, methicone, phenyl trimethicone, cyclomethicone, dimethiconol, and dimethicone copolyol.
FUNCTION - Dimethicone is a silicone-based polymer found in a wide range of cosmetics and personal care products. It is used to create a soft, smooth feel on skin and hair.
HEALTH CONCERN - This ingredient blocks pores from drawing moisture from the air and releasing toxins, and often leads to acne and irritation.
There are different types of alcohols, all with different properties, we will explain their functions and potential risks on a following blog.