For thousands of years, people have used cosmetics to enhance their appearance and to protect and nourish the body. Before the use of chemical processes and oil by-products only natural ingredients were available, mostly from plants. There are increasing revelations on the damaging long-term effects of many man-made products. Borax, for example, is extracted from the mineral Boron Atrocacite and is still extensively used in skin creams as an emulsifier. According to Danish medical reports, prolonged use has been shown to cause cancer especially in small children. Although banned in some European countries it is still used commercially in the USA and UK.
Many people are now choosing and discovering the benefits of holistic therapies instead of the science-based medicines used throughout the last century. More and more people are rediscovering the benefits of organic and natural food products. And more people are beginning to realise the potential harmful substances included in their personal hygiene and cosmetic products – but we need to read the labels! Many pharmaceutical products for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis may suppress the visible symptoms in the short term but they do not deal with the underlying problem. In the cosmetics industry products often appear to moisturise the skin but actually suppress its normal healthy functioning. The skin can quickly become dependent on its application, resulting in deterioration and loss of the ability for the skin to remain healthy. Vegetable fats and oils by comparison are readily absorbed by the skin, providing nourishment in the form of Vitamins A, D and E as well as providing essential fatty acids.
Some common substances to avoid:
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth
SLS is well known as a common skin irritant. SLES is less irritating but can cause more drying. Both may cause potentially carcinogenic formations of nitrates and dioxins to form in shampoos and cleansers by reacting with other ingredients.
Aluminium Often found in antacids, antiperspirants and antiseptics. It has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Comes from sheep’s wool and can be contaminated with pesticides.
Petroleum Jelly & Paraffin Products
Hinders normal skin respiration by masking problems and locking oxygen out.
A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in brake and hydraulic fluid, and industrial anti-freeze. Material Safety Data Sheets warn users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
The production of cosmetic products is controlled by the Cosmetic Regulations Act. One important part of the act is Certification (safety assessment). It is required that to sell any cosmetic product within the E.U the product must have been certified. The safety assessment tests that the cosmetic product is safe for its intended use. This in turn protects the consumer and the manufacturer.