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Chemicals in cosmetics

The world is skincare, and cosmetics can be confusing. Thankfully, I’m on a mission to simplify things. In my latest blog post, I’m delving into the world of chemicals in cosmetics so you can understand what you’re putting on your skin every day. 

If you’ve ever read the back of your favourite cosmetics, likely, you don’t recognise most of the ingredients on there. Unfortunately, many of the ingredients in cult products are harmful chemicals that are bad news for our skin. As the beauty industry isn’t as regulated as possible, we as consumers are ultimately responsible for what we put on our skin, which can be daunting. As the list of ‘hero’ ingredients seems to be ever-growing, below are some ingredients I’d recommend avoiding. 


Sulfates are salts that form when sulphuric acid reacts with another chemical. Although sulfates can irritate your eyes and skin, it’s an ingredient often used in mascara, so it’s one to watch. Plus, they’re no good for the environment. 


Parabens are preservatives used to keep your cosmetics and skincare products fresh and germ-free. Parabens are often found in soaps, lotions and makeup, although research has shown they may cause increased production of the hormone estrogen. 


Phthalates are a sneaky compound that sits under the “fragrance” umbrella. They’re often used to help perfume stick to our skin and may be present in eyelash glue and nail polish. This chemical can disrupt the endocrine system, which is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate our growth, development, metabolism and more. 

Synthetic fragrances 

When a cosmetic label says “fragrance” or “perfume”, there’s no telling what that chemical is. So, this umbrella term makes it difficult to determine what may cause a reaction for you if you have particularly sensitive skin. If you’ve found that you’re sensitive to fragrance, avoid these. 


While it’s not used in cosmetics too much, triclosan is an antimicrobial ingredient often found in deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste and hand sanitisers. Triclosan has been linked to such a significant impact on the reproductive and thyroid hormones; it’s been banned in multiple countries. 


Alcohol is an ingredient commonly found in skin care products because it aids the absorption of products, making it a choice ingredient for face creams and lotions. As a toxic skincare ingredient, alcohol can leave the skin dry and flaky, disrupting the skin’s renewal process. 


Ethanolamines are emulsifiers found in mascara, foundation and various other cosmetics. While they’re technically classified as safe for us, they’re also known to be allergens. So, if your skin is sensitive, this is an ingredient that should be on your radar. 


Formaldehyde, also known as carcinogen, is sometimes found in nail polish, eyelash glue, hair straightening products and several other cosmetics despite becoming a well-known toxic ingredient. While many brands have stopped using it, it’s still out there, so be mindful.

If I were to list all the harmful chemicals in cosmetics, you’d be here all day. If you have concerns about chemicals in your skincare and cosmetics, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a consultation. In the meantime, there is a wealth of information from trusted sources online. Take the time to do your research too. Until next time, here’s to clean beauty! 

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