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November 08, 2018


Every second range of cosmetic products on the market today, is being advertised as ‘natural’ and sometimes even organic. Take a closer look at labels and you will discover, that there are far too many chemicals in many of these products, most of which are being absorbed into your body. Many of these chemicals can irritate the skin, cause endocrine disruption and some are even potentially carcinogenic.
Recent social media research ( has confirmed that across all age groups, ‘natural’ is something that women, in particular, are looking for when they purchase new cosmetic products. Marketers have jumped onto this steam train and are steering their clients and brands accordingly. 
So what do we need to look out for?
Different countries have different codes of practice and varying lists of banned or un-approved ingredients. As many of us are global shoppers our best line of defence is to educate ourselves as best we can and make informed decisions.
Reading labels and doing a bit of online research is essential, and most of the time that’s all it takes. In most countries the ingredients listed on a label are required by law to be accurate and in order of quantity. Simply put, the ingredient most prevalent in the product needs to be listed first, and so on. 

However, one often finds that a product professing to be nourishing due to its rose hip content for example, lists rose hip ‘fragrance’ (a substance very different to rose hip essential oil) as an ingredient, and rather far down the ingredient list – this is when you should be smelling the proverbial rat.
It’s also extremely important to find out exactly where a company gets its essential oils from – as not all oils are created equal. 

Don’t be fooled by packaging either. The amount of ‘natural’ products with names and images that depict all things ‘green’, but don’t follow through on this promise, is criminal. 

I was given a beautiful looking hand cream by a friend (who knows my feelings towards using only natural products). The name of the brand even contained the word RAW. The bottles were dark brown glass, and the recycled brown paper labels were slightly ‘rough around the edges’ – the whole ‘package’ looked as RAW as the label professed the products to be.
It was only when I read the ingredient list and discovered that not only were there very few, if any, natural oils or extracts included, but that, to my horror it contained parabens as well! One of the most well documented chemicals to contribute to carcinogenic activity in the body.
RAW, I think not.

The moral of the story is to be mindful of what you are buying and where you are buying it. Do your homework, read labels and make informed choices. There are many people who suffer from various cancers, skin diseases and other illnesses and in a world as technologically advanced as ours, we can no longer claim ignorance. The decision is yours, and there seems no good reason, in my mind, to opt for a product containing nasty chemicals. 

‘PRICE!’ I hear you cry. Yes, I realise that mass produced items are often cheaper than their more holistic and smaller batched, locally produced counterparts. But can you put a price on your and your family’s health? 
Have a read through the list of chemicals below. If any of them are included in products you wish to buy – think twice! You have a choice, so make the best one you can with the knowledge you have at your disposal.

My top 4 nasty ingredients…
(out of a very long list)

Parabens – We’ve all heard of them.  In short parabens have been linked to breast cancer and have been found in biopsy samples from breast tumours.  Horrific, I know! Parabens are unfortunately widely used in cosmetics and toiletry products.  They are used to preserve the mix of ingredients and prevent mold and yeast growth.

Fragrance – Sounds innocent enough, but according to the Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database, fragrances have been linked to allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress as well as the fact that they affect the reproductive system.  Fragrance is a broad term and can hide a multitude of sins. (It does not merely refer to the ‘smell’ of the product).

Phthalates – There is a large group of phthalates found in a variety of products, including dibutyl phthalate in nail polish and diethyl phthalate found in some perfumes. Phthalates are very nasty chemicals and are known endocrine disruptors. They have also been linked to breast cancer and even more alarmingly, can effect early breast development in young girls. They may even cause reproductive birth defects.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – SLS creates lather, and is the reason why many commercial shampoos and body washes are ‘foamier’ than their natural counterparts. This foamy feel is wonderful and makes us think the product is cleaning better.  However, SLS has been linked to skin, lung and eye irritations and allergies. It is also reported to interact and combine with other chemicals to then form nitrosamines, a carcinogen.
The list is simply endless; formaldehyde, toluene, triclosan, propylene glycol etc., etc., etc.…

How many products will you be throwing away today?


By: Lecia Durham

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