Toxic Beauty



How much attention do you pay to the skin and personal care products that you buy?


Do you read the labels, so you know what goes into the products you are putting onto your body? 


Let’s not kid ourselves we spend a fortune on cosmetics so that we can keep our skin young, healthy and glowing.  In fact, the global market for personal care products is expected to reach $650 billion by 2024. 


For years I would always check the label of contents on the food that I was buying.  However, when it came to my cosmetics I went with the trusted brands.  I never once questioned that there may be nasty chemicals in my shampoo, lip stick or moisturiser. 


Over a year ago, my skin was itchy, and I decided to check the ingredients in my moisturiser and shampoo.  I was horrified!  The number of chemical nasties that were in these products shocked me.  I then started to check everything that I put onto my body including make-up, deodorant, bubble bath, sun creams, hand wash, shower gels, hairspray and the list goes on and on!


I have a PhD in Chemistry and although it has been many years since I have worn a lab coat, I do know that some of the chemicals that are used in the personal care industry today were not originally developed for use on our skin, hair and nails.     


The key chemicals that I look out for in personal care products are:  



These are synthetic preservatives that are used in skin care products to increase the shelf life of the product by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, fungus and mold. The bad side to these chemicals is that can disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking oestrogen.  There have been studies carried out that link parabens with breast cancer, DNA damage as well as accelerating the aging process by reacting to the UVB rays in sunlight.  


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

SLS and SLES are surfactants and are used in beauty products as a foaming agent.  These surfactants are used in bubble bath products and shampoo to create the bubbles and foam.  These chemicals may make your bath look divine and super bubbly, but they can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and lungs.  They can also react with other chemicals to become carcinogenic and lead to kidney and respiratory problems.


Polyethylene glycol (PEGs)

PEGs are derived from petroleum and are commonly used as moisture and thickening agents or as softeners.  PEGs allow for fast absorption into the skin which makes PEGs great for use in sun creams, make-up, moisturiser, hairsprays and serums.  However, PEGs are skin irritators and have been linked with dermatitis.



These chemicals originated in the plastics industry since they make plastic soft and more manageable.  The cosmetics industry uses these chemicals since they allow the products and fragrances to stick to the skin for longer.  They are therefore used in hair gel, nail polish, hair spray, perfumes, shampoos and conditioners.  The effect of phthalates on the human body is that they are endocrine disrupting chemicals and have been associated with fertility issues in both men and women as well as respiratory issues.


Artificial Fragrance

I love natural fragrance, however, in many products such as air fresheners, shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers and bathing products there are synthetic fragrances.  This is a difficult one to try and get to the bottom of since very few companies will actually write on the label what the chemical fragrance contains and even the products that say “fragrance free” may actually contain masking agents to hide the fragrance.  It is fair to say that many of the synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum such as phthalates and toluene.  These nasties can result in cancer, birth defects and allergic reactions.


A good way of tracking what products are healthier for your skin is to use Apps such as Think Dirty.  This is a really great way of checking your product ranges whilst you shop.  You can scan the barcode or do a manual search and the App will rank how carcinogenic the product is. 


So what products contain natural chemicals?  When I started on this quest I was expecting there to be very little products available to buy.  Well I couldn’t have been more wrong!  My favourite for skin care and cosmetics is Tropic.  Their range is fantastic and although it has taken me some time to switch over to their products I am now using their make-up, skin care range, deodorant and their bathing products.  What I couldn’t believe was how amazing the products smell, and the scents are natural. 


My favourite products are their “Body Love” which I lather all over my body to keep my skin silky soft, their “Smoothing Cleanser” which smells divine and I love to bathe in their “Soothe The Senses” bath oil.  That said, I also use the Tropic make-up range too which I equally love. 


One thing I have noticed since switching my make-up over is that my lips don’t get dry when I use their lipstick or lip gloss which is what used to happen when I used other leading brands.  The reason for this is there are no nasty chemicals in the Tropic products, unlike many leading lipstick brands that contain parabens, retinyl palmitate and dyes.  Tropic also do a wonderful Men’s range too.


For my hair care, I use natural hairspray and mousse products by Giovanni which are incredible and do not contain parabens, SLS or SLES and dyes. 


My shampoo and conditioners are made by Natural Word and their 95 % natural range does not contain parabens, phosphates, phthalates and dyes.


For nail polish, Benecos has an amazing range of colours and keeps your nails happy and healthy so you really can use wonderful, organic, natural, products from head to toe.




Personal Care Products Market and Forecast, By Type (Skincare, Haircare, Oral Care, Fragrance), And Trend Analysis, 2014 - 2024 at:


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