Chemicals to avoid in skincare

What’s wrong with today’s cosmetic industry?

The cost of mainstream cosmetic products


Traditional cosmetics conglomerates spend much more time and money on advertising, distribution and administrative expenses than goes into producing your skincare product. Cheap ingredients are used to allow for massive marketing budgets. The actual cost of your ‘premium’ famous brand skincare product can be as little as 30 cents, or even less in some cases.

Is there petroleum in your skincare products?

The answer is probably yes – if you are buying mainstream ‘famous brand’ products.

Petroleum is extracted from the earth and processed into petrochemicals.

Look out for words such as:

– ethyl (ethane)
– propyl (propane)
– PEG (polyethylene   glycol)
– methl (methane)
– benz (benzene)
– butyl (butane)
x-rayChemicals accumulate in our bodies.
ribbonCan be carcinogenic (cause cancer).
insidesCan be disruptive to the endocrine system.
fishCan be harmful to our environment & water.

Fatal attraction – why?

productionPetrochemical skincare products can be produced in massive quantities.
profitThe ingredients are very cheap and increase profitability.

Synthetic fragrances – when a rose is not a rose

In 2007, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named fragrance “Allergen of the Year.”


20% of the human population is sensitised to at least one allergen.


Most skincare fragrance ingredients are produced by chemical sythesis. So when the packaging says ‘rose’, this probably means that the rose aroma has been chemically produced.

Cosmetic products contain on average 10 chemicals that are known to be sensitisors and can trigger allergic reactions. Synthetic fragrances can cause:

– headaches
– contact dermatitis
– chest tightness & wheezing
– mucosal irritation
– reduced pulmonary function
– Asthma & asthmatic exacerbation
– Rhinitis & airway irritation
– sense organ irritation
– infant diarrhoea & vomiting
Chemicals in synthetic fragrances are often not declared on labels because fragrances can be classed as ‘trade secrets’ in most countries. This means that you have no way of knowing what’s in your skincare product, should you develop an allergic reaction to it. Chemical fragrances also often contain confirmed and suspected carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances.

Your skin: a toxic waste bin?

Just a few of the things that belong in the toxic waste bin and not on your skin!


Coal tar:
Used in dry skin treatments, anti-lice and anti-dandruff shampoos. A known carcinogen banned in the EU, but still used in the USA.

Used as emulsifier and foaming agent. Suspected carcinogen.

Ethoxylated surfactants:
A by-product produced by adding ethylene oxide to make other chemicals less harsh, therefore never listed in the ingredients. Found in many baby washes and other products. Made from carcinogenic ethylene oxide.

Chemical fragrance:
May contain any number of hidden ‘trade secret’ chemicals. May cause dizziness, headaches, asthma and allergies.

Found in many lipsticks, but never listed as it is a contaminant, not an ingredient.
Known carcinogen.

Mineral oil:
Petroleum by-product found in many moisturisers, gels and baby oils.
Impairs the skin’s ability to release toxins.

Used in many perfumes, fragrances, deodorants and lotions as plasticisers (but banned in children’s toys in the EU).
Linked to kidney/lung/liver damage, endocrine distribution and cancer.

Silicone-based emollients:
Used to make hair and skincare products feel soft and smooth on the skin.
They don’t biodegrade, prevent the skin from breathing and are linked to tumour growth and skin irritation.

Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES):
Used to make soap and skincare products foamy (formerly used as an industrial degreaser).
Absorbed into the body and irritated the skin.

We could go on, and on, and on, and on…