Information is readily available these days for everyone. A simple search on “harmful skincare ingredients” will yield more than 10 million results, most highlighting the common few – Parabens, Sulfates, Mineral Oils and the list goes on. However, are these ingredients truly harmful to the skin or is it a casualty of yet another marketing strategy to ‘educate’ consumers on what is good or bad?
Here at A KINDER BEAUTY, we aim to provide you with the available information for you to decide on what is good or bad. Afterall, no one knows better than you do.
Scroll down to find out as we look at 5 controversial ingredients that are frequently placed in the spotlight.
Commonly found in beauty products.
Take a quick look over the label of your existing skincare products, 99% will have Aqua/Water listed as its first ingredient. This means that not only is water present, it is the top ingredient with the highest contribution. Once water is present, bacteria can grow which is why most products contain preservative in the form of Parabens – due to its ability to prevent growth of mould and fungi i.e. preserve shelf-life of products. Parabens are known to mimic estrogen and can act as hormone disruptor, when exposed to high concentration. Studies have also shown that Parabens are found in breast tumours but there was no conclusive evidence that it caused the tumours. Most studies conducted did not consider the tiny amount typically used in beauty products. In low amounts (1% or less), Parabens were in fact, not shown to be harmful. However, due to its association in relation to health concerns, as well as branded as a toxic ingredient, Beauty companies are pressured to remove Parabens from their products.
Commonly found in shampoo and body wash
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are mainly used to create lather, essentially to create bubbles that traps dirt, making it easy to wash off. Studies have shown Sulfates to have a drying effect on skin and can cause skin irritation with long-term use. However, these effects are also observed in sulfate-free products. The absence of Sulfates as a cleansing agent will require a substitute ingredient which often, causes the same effect. A product can be drying or sensitizing depending on its formulation and user’s skin reaction. This applies to both with and without Sulfates. However, as with Parabens, Beauty companies are pressured to remove Sulfates from their products due to its association as a ‘toxic ingredient’.
POLYETHYLENE GLYCOLS (PEGs)
Commonly found in body scrubs and cream-based products.
PEGs help to improve texture and product stability. Due to its ability to penetrate deeper into the skin, it acts as a vehicle for ingredients to be absorbed faster, both good and bad ones. PEGs itself has a low hazard rating and is purified for safety as used in cosmetics. However, there are concerns when contaminated with 1,4-dioxane or ethylene oxide – it is known to cause skin irritation and rashes.
Commonly found in cream-based products and cosmetics.
Mineral Oil helps to lock moisture into skin and improves the skin barrier function. As it tends to form a protective layer on the skin, Mineral Oil is often regarded as the culprit to clogged pores. However, there are currently no clear evidence that it is comedogenic (pore-clogging). The concerns arise when it is combined with other ingredients as there is a possibility that these ingredients will be trapped on the skin, leading to clogged pores. Nonetheless, Mineral Oil has proven to be the most non-sensitizing moisturizing ingredients and would be beneficial for those with dry and sensitive skin. For those with acne-prone skin, it is always recommended to check the product label for the best results.
Commonly found in beauty products.
Find a product that smells good and chances are it contains fragrance. The sole purpose is to mask the original smell of the product, which might be unpleasant due to the mixing of chemicals. The key issue with artificial fragrance lies in its anonymity – brands are not required to disclose the chemicals used in the fragrance mixture. They are often tagged under the following – Fragrance/ Perfume/ Parfum/ Aroma. This means you do not know what you are exposed to and this might potentially cause allergic reaction, or worse health issues. Many have advised to go for products with natural scent as an alternative. While it reduces the ambiguity greatly, do note that natural scents could potentially cause an allergic reaction as well.
With the rise in popularity for clean beauty, companies have marketed varied definitions on what they deemed is good and bad. While going natural and organic is the best solution, it is simply not sustainable for most. If you spot any questionable ingredient on the product label, do not be quick to dispose. More importantly, it is crucial to understand your skin type as it determines if an ingredient is truly harmful to your skin.