We all strive for healthy glowing skin and look for facial products that help keep it that way. However, there are so many facial cleansers on the market claiming to be all natural that have toxic chemicals in their ingredients. Knowing what to look out for and why they are not good for your skin is the first step towards getting, and keeping that clean and healthy glow.
Which ingredients to avoid
At the top of the list, parabens are found in a variety of beauty and personal hygiene products, including many face washes. It’s used as a preserving agent to give products a longer shelf life and prevent bacteria, yeasts, and mold from growing. One would think this is a good thing! However, parabens have a certain property that mimics estrogen that has been linked to the rise of breast cancer. One study that was undertaken in 2004 and then published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology showed that biopsies of breast tumors detected the presence of parabens. While no link to causing cancer was proven, people with skin sensitivity could find this ingredient to be an irritant to the skin. Parabens can come in a few forms: Benzylparaben, Butyiparaben, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben
Phthalates (also known as Dibutylphthalate) is an ingredient that is used to help speed up the absorption of face wash on the skin, more so in any medicated face washes that are used to treat acne. There has been concern that Phthalates can be potential carcinogens, which is any substance that can cause cancer in living tissue. Some in the makeup industry have stopped using it in their products due to it causing some severe allergic reactions. The problem here is that Phthalates isn’t easily found on the ingredient list of products, but rather disguised as “fragrance”. If you are going to use a product that has fragrance in it, stick to those that use a more natural essential oil.
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (momoethnanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine)
These ingredients are in just about any product that foams, such as foaming face washes. They are easily absorbed through the skin and are known to be disruptive to the hormones. They can also react with other ingredients and form NDEA ( nitrosodiethanolamine), a potent carcinogen. They have also been known to cause allergic reactions and dry the skin out
A by-product of petroleum, mineral oil is used in face washes to lock in moisture. However, it can have the opposite effect. When any kind of oil is applied to your skin it stops the pores of the skin from secreting the natural oils of our body. So, as soon as you discontinue using a face wash that is oily, you may find your skin seems to suddenly have a dried out feeling and can develop skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. Cosmetic companies tend to use mineral and petroleum derived ingredients due to them being cheap, not going bad over time and having no fragrance. Look for these ingredients when buying your face wash so you know which to avoid: Propylene Glycol, Paraffin, Mineral Oil, Butylene Glycol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Petrolatum
Unless your skin is severely dry, it’s best to stick with facial washes that are oil free or those that use natural plant oils.
Sodium Laurel Sulphate
About 90% of personal care products on the market contain SLS. SLS can be damaging to the skin and is known for causing carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins to get into the blood stream. It’s been used as a degreasing agent in face washes and, frighteningly as a degreaser for engines. Who would want that on their face? It has been known as one of the more irritating cleansing ingredients added to skin care products. In fact, it’s the go-to ingredient used by many cosmetic labs to compare if other products are problematic for the skin. People who are highly sensitive or allergic to skin care products find SLS causes flare ups. They can be found in most foaming face washes.
It can get confusing, but there are some natural plant derived ingredients that sound similar to SLS, however they are safe to use: Sodium Hydroxypropylphosphate Laurylglucoside Crosspolymer, Sodium Coco-Glucoside Tartrate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate
Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine
Both of these ingredients are common chemicals that are used in many face washes to help balance PH so that they closely match PH levels of the skin. A study done in 1994 by NTP showed that these can be a hazard that has led to organ failure of the kidneys and liver.
Used as a base ingredient in many beauty products, alcohols main function is to make thicker skin care products feel much lighter weight. It is also used to assist in the absorption of vitamin C and retinol in products. However, it does so by breaking down the skin’s natural barriers. This can be detrimental if you have pretty dry skin, to begin with, as alcohol can be very drying to the skin and cause irritation. The ingredients to stay away from are: Isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Ethyl alcohol.
Artificial and Synthetic Dyes and Colorants
Most mainstream beauty products use what is known as coal tar, a harsh artificial colorant that tends to cause irritation and skin sensitivity due to the heavy metals that they can leave on the skin. Colors used in face washes are often not easily found on the label. Ingredients to look out for are anything that begins with FD&C or D&C.
Fragrance is a very vague category and a term that was used by many companies to represent their secret formulas. Many fragrance recipes have been known to cause allergic reactions, respiratory issues like asthma flare-ups, headaches and dermatitis. Many of the synthetic fragrances used also use Phthalates as a stabilizer. Fragrances do nothing for your face wash, aside from making it smell pretty. If you like pretty smelling face washes you can look for those that use fruit, plant and essential oil extracts for a more natural solution.
Many will worry that avoiding these ingredients will narrow their choices in the face wash department. However, (PriMiracle provides an amazing all natural chemical free facial cleanser.) there are a wide variety of chemical free alternatives on the market today that you can choose from. Make sure you top off your facial cleansing regime with a chemical free moisturizer as well.
[Source: FDA and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14745841)