Not a single day goes by when television advertisements do not show skin-whitening products. Every time I channel surf, there’s always some star kid who’s going ga-ga over a foaming face wash. Or, there’ll be a pretty model flaunting her straight hairdo and attributing it to her shampoo. While we are spoilt for choice, the fine print is often ignored.
Have we ever thought about the number of chemicals that goes into the making of these perfect products? I never had honestly! Who has the time? Many of us pay attention to working out in the gym or strive to attain the perfect Yoga posture. And then, we have work deadlines to adhere to. While our days are hectic, there’s barely time to even grab a bite. It’s not always possible to alter our lifestyle. But it helps to be informed to make the right choice.
Not every product labeled as ‘natural’ is natural. Not every company will print a complete ingredient list. If you are using fancy grooming products a bit too often, then here are some chemicals you need to watch out for. While I understand we can’t suddenly stop using the brands we love, we can at least begin with a small step. (I am personally guilty of having spent on lip gloss and perfumes because these are the things I love!)
Lead: This is found in lipsticks and hair coloring products. Lead isnever listed as an ingredient, so, you’ll need to read about the brand before making the purchase. The longer lasting your lipstick is, chances are, the more chemicals it has! (Earlier, I used to purchase ‘Biotique’ lipsticks but strangely, these were suddenly stopped from being manufactured. They were a tad costly than regular brands.)
Parabens: This is a common ingredient used by cosmetic brands and works as a preservative. It causes skin damage and its long-term effects include cancer. Parabens may also not be disclosed by the manufacturer on the product label. This makes the whole part tricky!
Phthalates: This ingredient is found in the fancy perfumes, and skin
creams. They are the key component to hold a fragrance. It can cause permanent damage to our body.
Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfates (SLS, SLES): This is the key ingredient why some shampoos lather a whole lot more! (Feels wow, doesn’t it when it lathers?) This causes skin irritation and the component is easily absorbed by the body. This is found in shampoos, lotions, body washes and cleansers. It is also found in detergents.
DEA, MEA and TEA: Ever wondered what makes your skin lotion so creamy and smooth? A-ha! These components are certainly absorbed faster by the skin and can be cancer causing. Many moisturizer and sun block lotions contain DEA as they impart a superb consistency. Using them every day can be hazardous to health. Apart from skin problems, this agent is also hazardous to the environment.
DBP: An ingredient found mainly in nail enamels, this agent is also absorbed by the skin causing many defects in the body. Many hair sprays are known to include this agent.
Triclosan: Your hand sanitizer may make you feel very clean but if it includes triclosan, it is better to avoid it. According to lab experiments, triclosan is linked to cancer.
Phenoxyethanol: Certainly a wonderful ingredient to add in dermatological products for its aroma, but Phenoxyethanol is linked to skin damage in the long run.
Silicone: A good number of hair care products include this ingredient. However, this agent is not biodegradable and blocks the skin pores and suffocates your hair. The presence of silicone may impart a wonderful shine to hair, but, it is harmful for the health.
I am not aware if we have a strict law in India to label products as natural, herbal or organic. It would certainly help consumers make an informed decision.
If you have more information about toxic chemicals or unsafe cosmetics, do write in the comments below. Let us all help each other to be aware and shop wisely!