What substances to avoid in cosmetics
Navigating the complicated world of cosmetic ingredients is not easy. For this reason we have prepared some guidelines to guide you in choosing the most suitable products for you.
natural and organic cosmetics such as those of Santi di Diso DO NOT contain:
- Parabens (ingredients containing the word paraben ),
- Silicones (ingredients that contain the word siloxane or end in one )
- Antimicrobials (triclosan, bht, bha)
- Chemical dyes (indicated with the acronym CI followed by a number)
- Preservatives that release formaldehyde
- Chemically derived perfumes.
Here is a quick but comprehensive guide on what cosmetics for the skin of adults and especially children should NOT contain
Surfactants have a double chemical structure: on the one hand they are similar to water and able to bind with it, on the other they are similar to fat. Thanks to this ability they have the function of washing away dirt (grease) and for this reason they are used in all detergent products, such as shampoo, shower gel, intimate cleanser, liquid soap.
The most discussed surfactants among those most used are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS and Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLES , since their cleansing action is often too drastic and during washing they can remove the hydrolipidic acid film of the skin, increasing its permeability and allowing other substances to penetrate.
It must be said that the aggressiveness of these surfactants is balanced by other surfactants included within the cosmetic formulation.
There are also less aggressive surfactants allowed in eco-organic cosmetics, including Lauryl glucoside, Coco glucoside and Glyceryl oleate and Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate .
Parabens are substances used as preservatives that can be recognized on the label of a cosmetic by the ending in -paraben.
Some recent research has raised concerns that they may interfere with the endocrine system. A cosmetic product that contains water must also contain a preservative, which is often synthetic, to ensure that the product is not attacked by mold and bacteria, which are often more dangerous than the preservative itself.
The preservative is found at the last place in the INCI of a cosmetic, therefore it is used at very low percentages (generally less than 1%) and there are vegetable and synthetic preservatives allowed in eco-organic cosmetics, such as the combination Potassium Sorbate and Sodium benzoate widely used in natural products .
All these ingredients are allowed in cosmetic products in certain percentages and the controls on cosmetics on the market make each product safe for our health.
Furthermore, it should be remembered that the goodness of a product does not depend only on the single ingredient but on the entire formulation of the cosmetic; the aggressive action of a component can in fact be mitigated by another ingredient, as happens with surfactants.
Having said this, we must consider that every day there are many cosmetics we use to cleanse, hydrate and care for our skin and hair and we are not able to evaluate the interactions of the ingredients of all the products that come into contact with our body, therefore the ideal would be to expose yourself as little as possible to certain substances.
Petrolates: Paraffin, Vaseline and Silicones
Petrolatums are hydrocarbons , substances that derive from petroleum refining waste. In cosmetics, the so-called "white petrolatums" are used, refined and free from processing impurities.
Like silicones, they are used mainly in creams, shower gels, shampoos and make-up as protective agents to avoid dehydration of the skin .
How do they work? They create a real protective film on the skin, which avoids dehydration by preventing the water present in the cells from evaporating. Furthermore, their consistency makes the skin appear smooth and silky.
This sensation, however, is only temporary : in fact they do not nourish the skin, but simply cover it with an oily layer.
However, their filming characteristic is also one of their biggest defects: in fact they prevent not only water from exiting, but also oxygen from entering , interfering with normal skin breathing and allowing microorganisms and bacteria to proliferate inside. under their protective film.
They are also comedogenic substances: by closing the pores, they favor the formation of blackheads, pimples and other imperfections.
Paraffin and Vaseline are indicated on the label as Paraffin , Paraffinum Liquidum , Petrolatum , Mineral Oil , and are used in the fatty phase of a cream for their film-forming function; However, it seems that their anti-dehydrating action prevents the skin from perspiration , clogging the pores.
This hinders the physiological expulsion of toxins and, used daily, these ingredients can cause irritation or allergic reactions. Furthermore, the slowdown in the functions of normal cell development gives rise to premature aging of the skin.
Silicones can be recognized on a cosmetic label by their ending in -one, -thicone -siloxane . They are artificial molecules, non-biodegradable and which require polluting production processes.
Although cosmetological literature claims that silicones are inert and as such harmless to skin and hair, these ingredients create an occlusive patina that hinders the normal physiological functions of the skin , a bit like paraffin and petroleum jelly.
It is a gelling agent used in gels, gel-creams and light emulsions . It is not biodegradable in any way and can be replaced in eco-organic cosmetics by gelling agents of natural origin, including xanthan gum, carrageenan gum or agar-agar.
It is a petroleum derivative but has no biodegradability problems . In cosmetics it acts as a solvent/humectant and seems to be able to exert its solvent action even on the hydro-lipidic acid film of the skin, causing irritation and sensitization even in low doses.
EDTA, PEG, PPG, DEA, MEA, TEA, MIPA
The various EDTAs (Disodium EDTA, Tetrasodium EDTA) are chelators that sequester and render the metals present in the cosmetic harmless. In this way, the preparation becomes more stable and long-lasting since the EDTAs prevent the metals from oxidizing, causing the product to go rancid or from binding with the surfactants, making the latter less effective. They are not very biodegradable.
If we find the acronyms PEG and PPG on the label, we know that these indicate the presence of petroleum molecules (emulsifiers, surfactants, humectants, solvents, etc.) which decrease the skin's ability to absorb moisture and nutrients.
MEA (monoethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), MIPA (monoisopropylamine) are part of the amine family.
In the presence of other ingredients (nitrites), amines can give rise to nitrosamines, allergenic and potentially carcinogenic compounds.
PRESERVATIVES or all those substances that must be added to cosmetics containing water to prevent the development of mold or bacteria. Among the most common we find:
- FORMALDEHYDE : we find it in many commonly used products and unfortunately it is also widely used in the preservation of cosmetics. Products such as foundation , shampoo and nail polish contain formaldehyde which, in addition to being a preservative, is a powerful bactericide. Although its carcinogenicity has been established , formaldehyde continues to be contained in a wide range of products, albeit at very low concentrations.
- PARABENS : the six main parabens that we can find in commercial formulations are methylparaben , ethylparaben , propylparaben , isobutylparaben , butylparaben and benzylparaben and are used as preservatives in moisturisers, sun creams, toothpastes, shampoos, intimate cleansers, deodorants, shaving gel, in short, in many cosmetics for everyday use, even in so-called "natural" or "organic" products. It has been widely demonstrated that these substances penetrate through the skin and remain intact within the tissue, accumulating. Although they are legally allowed in the European Union, parabens are also seriously suspected of being carcinogenic .
- QUATERNIUM 15 : it is always part of the preservatives. It is present in many eye make-up cosmetics, foundations, shampoos but also in moisturizing lotions and sun creams. It is harmful because it releases formaldehyde, is toxic and gives rise to sensitization phenomena.
- KATHON CG : is another preservative, a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, colorless and odorless contained in dermocosmetics, personal hygiene products and household products. From a toxicological point of view, Kathon CG has been classified as a primary irritant despite its widespread use. You can find it on labels with synonyms such as GROTAN , EUXIL or ISOTHIAZOLINE .
- MEA-DEA-TEA : they are not the names of three nice sisters but respectively the acronyms of monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, triethanolamine and are present in many cosmetic compounds. We can almost always find them in products that foam, such as shampoos, soaps and shower gels, and give rise to nitrates and nitrosamines, i.e. carcinogenic agents.
- PARAFENILENDIAMINE (PFD): this substance, with a name that is difficult to pronounce, we often encounter when we go to the hairdresser, in fact it is the most important dye used for permanent hair coloring. Very often it gives rise to sensitization phenomena, so much so that this substance has been banned by many European countries.
- PHTHALATES : one of the most incriminated substances, which we had already talked about extensively, is also widely used in the cosmetic field. According to a Greenpeace report, a very large number of perfumes for men and women from the best brands contain two substances that can have unwanted effects on health: phthalates and synthetic musks.
- SURFACTANTS : these are substances with foaming, detergent and solubilizing properties. They are obviously present in all products that cleanse the body and hair and the best known are undoubtedly sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) . They are not carcinogenic substances, as was thought until a few years ago, but being very aggressive it is better to prefer products containing more delicate surfactants and above all to limit their use.
- TOLUENE : read toluene and you immediately think of nail products and in fact toluene is the solvent used to easily apply nail polish. Unfortunately, it has been linked to nervous system disorders and can also cause kidney damage. To take action, some cosmetic companies have removed the offending substance from the components of their nail polishes. Maybe our enamel will crumble faster, but we will be sure of not poisoning ourselves.
- SCENT : All cosmetics generally have a pleasant smell. We tend to think that the fragrance inside personal hygiene products is completely harmless, but this is not the case. 95% of the chemicals used in perfumes and cosmetic fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum and since perfumes have a low molecular weight, they are able to penetrate the skin more easily and can cause allergies or breathing difficulties.
- HYDROQUINONE : reading the labels of skin lightening products it is easy to come across this compound, a phenol which is harmful, irritating and dangerous for the environment. Even though its use as a skin lightener has been banned, this substance continues to be used in hair dyes , albeit at low concentrations.
- COAL TAR : therapeutic tars are often used in dermatology to treat psoriasis . Among these, the most effective is Coal Tar, the mineral tar which, due to its reducing and antiseborrheic activity, is used in many anti-itch creams and scalp treatments but can give rise to photosensitization phenomena.
- ALLUMINIUM : we find it in many products, both food and non-food, and obviously it could not be missing from the components of many cosmetics, especially deodorants and antiperspirants , which can contain up to 20% of aluminum salts in the form of aluminum hydrochlorides. aluminum and zirconium hydrates. Prolonged use of these substances is linked to the risk of developing breast cancer since aluminum salts are capable of significantly damaging the DNA of cells, stimulating their degeneration into cancerous cells.
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