As the body’s biggest organ, the skin constitutes the most important defense against everything nature throws at you. However, sometimes it’s not nature that’s trying to get you, but rather the personal hygiene, beauty and skin care products that you apply on your skin that are responsible for the damage. While you might think they are safe, the truth is that ever since the FDA granted the self-regulatory right to the cosmetic industry, the market has been flooded with products that contain ingredients harmful for your skin and your health. Following is a list of the dangerous chemical ingredients to avoid when shopping for your cosmetic or skin care products.
Mostly known as an active ingredient in anti-acne products, benzoyl peroxide creates free radicals which damage your skins DNA. Even though it’s a very potent ingredient that can kill the bacteria responsible for acne, benzoyl peroxide promotes skin damage similar to unprotected sun exposure. As many acne patients point out, their skin tends to turn red after applying a benzoyl peroxide based product. The redness doesn’t just dry and flake your skin, but it also constitutes an indicator of the oxidative stress of free radicals.
Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol
Often found in products integrating herb extracts, PG and Butylene glycol are very toxic petroleum plastics that should only be handled with gloves. Both ingredients penetrate the skin very easily and can quickly damage the cellular structure and proteins in the body. In fact, the glycols have been associated with kidney, liver and brain abnormalities.
Due to the extensive media campaigns, parabens are slowly going off the market. In fact, if you walk into a store and check out random skin care products, you’ll notice that most include the “paraben free” label. Even though it hasn’t been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt yet, parabens have been linked to breast cancer. While it is true that in low quantities they are harmless to human health, using products containing this ingredient daily can build up quite an exposure in the long run.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
PEG stands for an entire family of synthetic chemicals that take the form of emulsifiers, cleansing agents, humectants or surfactants in skin and care products. However, in reality PEGs are potential carcinogenic ingredients that alter and reduce the skin’s natural moisture levels. Not only does this action make your skin more vulnerable to bacteria, but it also promotes aging signs.
Advertised as a synthetic ingredient with antibacterial properties, Triclosan has been registered as a pesticide with high risks to both humans and the environment. In addition, Triclosan has been classified as a class of chemicals suspected for causing cancer in humans dubbed chlorophenol. A little known fact about the “antibacterial” ingredient is that during the manufacturing process it can produce dioxin, a chemical that acts like a hormone disruptor. While in the short-run, a hormone-disruptor can deactivate sensory nerve endings, in the long-run, it can alter genetic material, affect sexual functions, decrease fertility and lead to birth defects.
So, read those skin product ingredient labels just as carefully as you would read the ingredients labels of food.