12 Sketchy ingredients to avoid - they could be toxic!

There are plenty of products out there that we use on a daily or regular basis. How many of the following do you use every day?

  • Household cleaners
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Cleanser
  • Toner
  • Moisturiser
  • Cosmetics
  • Shower gel
  • Body scrub
  • Body lotion
  • Laundry detergent
  • Fake tan

Too often, we don't stop to think about the ingredients these common products contain - but we should do. There are loads of sketchy ingredients out there that could be harming our bodies - we've narrowed down our list to just 15 ingredients that you should avoid, for the sake of your health!

#1. SLS and PEG

What are they?

Sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate and propylene glycol are sudsing agents - they're what's responsible for making your shampoo lather and your foaming face wash burst into bubbles!

Where they're found

Shampoos, soap, baby shampoo, bubble bath

Why to avoid them

The manufacture of these chemicals releases a by-product called 1,4-dioxane, which is toxic. It can easily penetrate the skin, causing cancer and birth defects and it could be toxic to the respiratory system, kidneys and neurological system. Look out for ingredients which include '-xynol' 'oleth' and 'ceteareath'.

#2. TEA and DEA

What are they?

Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine are proteins that are used as wetting agents or to adjust a product's pH level.

Where they're found

Sunless tanning lotions, mascara, concealer and conditioner.

Why to avoid them

Combined with certain preservatives, TEA can create nitrosamines, compounds which could cause cancer.

#3. Bisphenol A (BPA)

What is it?

BPA is a plasticiser that is used in the lining of tinned foods and to make polycarbonate plastic hard and clear.

Where it's found

Till receipts, some baby toys and dummies, many tinned foods.

Why to avoid it

BPA disrupts the endocrine system, and has been associated with thyroid problems, obesity, metabolic disorders and even infertility.

#4. Triclosan and Triclocarban

What are they?

These are antimicrobial agents which are designed to kill fungus and bacteria whilst preventing odours.

Where they're found

Deodorant, antibacterial soap and hand sanitiser, toothpaste.

Why to avoid them

Triclosan and Triclocarban are absorbed by the skin and can accumulate in your body, disrupting your hormones. Using too many products containing them can create dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

#5. Formaldehyde

What is it?

Formaldehyde is a preservative used to prevent bacteria growth - weirdly, it also makes your hair really smooth and silky.

Where it's found

Eyelash glue, hair gel, nail polish, body wash, shampoo, nail polish remover and keratin hair straightener,

Why to avoid it

Long-term exposure to formaldehyde can lead to cancer and it's also known to cause allergic reactions, asthma, rashes and respiratory problems.

#6. VOCs

What are they?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a group of chemicals which release gases and fumes.

Where they're found

Air fresheners, paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies, some mattresses and household furnishings and anything with a strong scent.

Why to avoid them

VOCs can lead to serious health issues including cancer and respiratory illness.

#7. Sodium Nitrates

What is it?

Sodium Nitrates are used as a meat preservative.

Where it's found

Cured meats, bacon, pates, hot dogs and some smoked fish.

Why to avoid it

Sodium Nitrates can trigger migraines for some people and there's evidence to suggest that consuming too many nitrates could be linked to cancer.

#8. Parabens

What are they?

Parabens are preservatives, and by now many skincare and beauty product manufacturers have eliminated or reduced the amount of parabens they use in their products, as we're aware of the health risks they can pose.

Where they're found

Water-based products such as moisturiser, cleanser, shampoo, body lotion, conditioner, shower gel etc.

Why to avoid them

Because parabens are absorbed into the body through the blood, skin and digestive system, they're bad news. Recent research found high levels of parabens inside breast tumours and they can be toxic to our immune and reproductive systems.

#9. Petrochemicals

What are they?

Petrochemcicals are used as moisturising agents.

Where they're found

Cleansers, moisturisers and body lotions, foundations, lip balms and lipsticks.

Why to avoid them

Petroleum-filled products can block your pores and lead to breakouts, so they're bad news if your skin is sensitive or acne prone - use water-based oil-free products instead. Long-term, it's not totally clear how petrochemicals affect our bodies, but petroleum distillates can cause cancer - and petrochemicals are used in gasoline, paint and antifreeze. Not something you should be slathering all over your face!

#10. Mercury

What is it?

Mercury is a preservative which is used to prevent bacterial growth.

Where it's found

Some seafood, CFL lightbulbs, some mascara.

Why to avoid it

Mercury is a neurotoxin which can be easily absorbed through the skin, accumulating in the body. It can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions and use of it is restricted in cosmetic products, so only tiny amounts can be used.

#11. Lead

What is it?

Lead, along with other heavy metals, is classed as a contaminant.

Where it's found

PVC clothing or anything made from PVC, drinking water, shower curtains, children's toys, raincoats, umbrellas, dummies, lipstick, children's face paint.

Why to avoid it

Lead is a known neurotoxin and there is no such thing as a 'safe' level of lead exposure. It's been linked to delayed learning development, autism and neurological issues in babies and children. Those who are pregnant should avoid lead full stop as it could affect your unborn baby.

#12. Phthalates

What are they?

Pthalates are plasticisers which are responsible for a range of things, from making your nail polish last longer to making deodorant and even air freshener smell good.

Where they're found

PVC/plastic shower curtains, some nail polishes, vinyl flooring, anything with 'fragrance' on the label.

Why to avoid them

Twenty years' research backs up the claims that phtalates can damage reproductive health and mess with hormones.

Avoiding nasty ingredients

You can avoid the majority of these ingredients by cutting back on your beauty and personal care products - try going make-up free more often! Or use natural products which don't contain harmful chemicals - Holland and Barrett do a great range and Aubrey Organics manufacture a range of paraben and additive-free skincare and bodycare products. Simplifying your grooming routine will definitely help, as will using natural cleaning products around the home.


READ THIS NEXT: Join the make-up free revolution for healthier skin

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 8th Jul 2015 at 14:09
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