Chemicals to Avoid

Chemicals to avoid

The principle of skincare should be to do no harm. Unfortunately, there are lots of chemicals to avoid which have made their way into many skincare products. These have been shown to cause harm to some people.

No PEGS or Esters Here!

  • More than 80,000 synthetic chemicals surround you every day.
  • Synthetic chemicals are in your air, food, water, and in most of the products you use — many going straight into your body or your child’s body, even before birth.
  •  Your cells interact with about 200 industrial chemicals every day.
  • Until recently, modern science really hadn’t grasped what this relentless exposure could mean for your health, but that’s now changing, thankfully.

Here is a very  interesting article from Dr. Mercola (renowned natural health GP and expert) on hidden dangers in skincare products

The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but some of the main culprits to watch out for! Oddly, all of them, bar one begin with a ‘P’!

Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is a by-product of oil –  the black stuff drilled out of the ground and converted into gas or petrol for your car.

Other names for it are petrolatum, parafinum liquidum, liquid paraffin or petroleum jelly. It is used extensively in skincare and medical skincare preparations because it is a very cheap moisturising barrier.

Unfortunately, whilst a barrier might help reduce moisture loss or protect skin, mineral oil does not allow skin to breathe. Our skin is one of the ways we eliminate toxins. Covering it up with an unbreathable layer may cause skin to start behaving badly because the skin is prevented from doing what it is meant to do naturally – breathe!

Palm Oil
Palm oil or palm kernel oil is sourced from large areas of natural habitat which have been cleared by farmers to grow palm trees. This means a drastic decline in habitat for the orangutan which has now become an endangered species. Save The Orangutan work tirelessly to rescue, rehabilitate and release orangutans who fall victim to the expanding mono culture production of palm oil.

Palm oil is used extensively in the cosmetic and food industry (check if your local chip shop uses it) because it is a cheap oil to produce. The animal and nature cost of this monoculture is not taken into consideration.

Always check for palm oil in skincare products – it’s what sodium lauryl sulphate is made from (see paragraph below on SLS). Avoid it if possible or, only select those products where the palm oil has come from a sustainable source and there is some identification to evidence this such as the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) badge.

  • SLS  an abbreviation of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, sometimes called SLES (sodium lauryl ether sulphate) is made from palm oil and used extensively in skincare products as a foaming agent. There is a lot of evidence which suggests that it can be a skin irritant and can cause cosmetic dermatitis.

We do not use palm oil or palm oil derivatives in any of our products; we never have and we never will.

Palm Oil is destroying the Orangutan habitat

Parabens occur naturally in certain plants as a protection system for the plant. In cosmetics, these are used to preserve a product; to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. The ones used in common skincare products are synthetic (man–made from chemicals) as it is a much cheaper way to produce them.

The most common parabens are methylparaben and propylparaben and there is a great deal of research which suggests a link between synthetic parabens and health issues. For those reasons we keep our products paraben free and choose natural preservatives when we need to use them.

Permitted Colours
There are a number of permitted colourants that can be added to products, but we let our ingredients dictate the colour of a product. Adding a colour to a product has no positive benefit for your skin. We do not add any artificial colour to our formulations.

A generic term given to fragrance added to a product. The word often appears alone with no indication of what the fragrance is made from. There are many irritants to be found in these fragrance mixes so again we leave it to our natural ingredients to dictate the aroma of a product.

A substance added to plastic to increase its flexibility. Phtalates can be found in a vast range of products from furnishings to liquid soap and there is much concern about exposure to this chemical and its links to asthma, endochrine disruption and cancer. Again, this substance is not used in any of our products.

Our products are mainly anhydrous (made without water) or the pH of the formulation means that no preservative is required. Our products that do contain preservatives are the exfoliants, shave gel, body lotion, shampoo and hair conditioner. The nature of these particular formulations require preservatives as they would otherwise spoil quickly, allowing bacteria to grow. The preservatives used in these products are ones approved by the Soil Association. To read more about our approach to preservatives, click here

We do not and will never use preservatives such as;

  • Methylisothiazolinone – a chemical preservative added to products to prevent unwanted growth of bacteria and yeasts. However, there have been many cases of allergic reactions to products containing this chemical. You can read more in these articles from BBC Watchdog and The Daily Telegraph.

The BBC Watchdog article lists a number of products from face creams to baby wipes that contain this potential irritant.

  • Triclosan – frequently added to handwashes, detergent, wipes, deodorants and lots more as an antibacterial agent. Evidence shows that it can penetrate skin and is suspected of interfering with hormone function. It has long term consequences for the environment as so much is used and ends up washed into the ocean. This causes pH imbalances for the fish and mammals that live there, killing their food supply.

PEGS – PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based (made from oil drilled out of the ground) compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers.

PEGs are commonly used as cosmetic cream bases and are also used in pharmaceuticals as laxatives.

Depending on how they are made, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide, classified as a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane which has been classified as a  possible human carcinogen. Ethylene oxide can also harm the nervous system and the California Environmental Protection Agency has classified it as a developmental toxicant based on evidence that it may interfere with human development.

1,4-dioxane doesn’t easily degrade and can remain in the environment long after it is rinsed down the drain. It can be removed from cosmetics during the manufacturing process by vacuum stripping, but there is no easy way for consumers to know whether products containing PEGs have undergone this process.

‘In a study of personal care products marketed as “natural” or “organic” (uncertified), U.S. researchers found 1,4-dioxane as a contaminant in 46 of 100 products tested.’

Potential cancer causing contaminants are always the primary concern, but PEG compounds themselves also show some evidence of genotoxicity and potentially, if PEGS are used on broken skin, they can cause irritation and potential systemic toxicity.

The industry panel that reviews the safety of cosmetics ingredients concluded that some PEG compounds are not safe for use on damaged skin (although the assessment generally approved of the use of these chemicals in cosmetics). Unfortunately, PEG functions as a “penetration enhancer,” which means it increases the permeability of the skin to allow greater absorption of the product — including harmful ingredients! Definitely one to avoid!

Siloxanes – Look out for ‘Cyclomethicone’ and ingredients ending in “siloxane” e.g., cyclotetrasiloxane.

These silicone-based compounds are used in cosmetics to soften, smooth, and moisten. They make hair products dry more quickly and deodorant creams slide on more easily. They are also used extensively in moisturizers and facial treatments. Siloxanes can also be found in medical implants, water-repelling windshield coatings, building sealants and lubricants.

Environment Canada assessments concluded that cyclotetrasiloxane and cylcopentasiloxane — also known as D4 and D5 are toxic, persistent, and have the potential to bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms. The European Union classifies D4 as a endocrine disruptor, based on evidence that it interferes with human hormone function and a possible reproductive toxicant that may impair human fertility.