Natural Skin Care – Avoiding Chemicals
How do we choose a chemical free option when labelling is so poorly legislated in Ireland and the EU in general? It can be tough trying to decipher what the ingredients in a product actually are and with so much choice out there it is hard to know what exactly you are putting on your skin.
Baba’s delicate skin is so natural at this stage, akin to a blank canvas, so looking after it and avoiding chemicals as much as possible is essential.
I have taken a practical approach to avoiding chemicals as much as possible. Some products need certain chemicals in them to work .. like sunscreen needing emulsifiers like Cetyl Palmitate to absorb on the skin effectively.
Some chemicals are harmless but have intimidating names such as Hyaluronic Acid; which is actually a natural polysaccharide (found in connective tissue such as bone cartilage). Its function is to help retain moisture within the skin.
Here is a list of what to avoid if possible:
The European Union has classified this a harmful irritant to the eyes and skin, stating it is also dangerous to the environment. Well documented studies have noted that it disrupted thyroid hormone synthesis – resulting in Hypo or Hyperthyroidism.
The Cosmetics Safety Database has given this 8/10 for hazard.
Also known as Dimethicone, Amodimethicone, ingredients usually end in “cone”, “conol” or “xane”. This is basically like plastic, and mostly found in conditioners. A lot of brands are moving to silicone free now which is great! Silicone can build up in your hair and weigh it down with a greasy build up. A hairdresser once asked me when I was younger what brand of conditioner I was using, I told him it was “Aussie” hair products and he told me I had a massive build up of silicone in my hair!
Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben and Isopropylparaben are the most dangerous.
This ingredient is now on the radar of major skin care brands who are now offering paraben free shampoos and conditioners (woop!) Parabens are preservatives, they mimic estrogen, thus disrupting your endocrine function and scarily have been found in accumulations throughout the body. Avoid as much as possible!
Found in PVC, Nail Varnish, Skin Care, Cling Film, Toys. Linked to the disruption of puberty in women and reproductive system in men. Avoid nail varnish that contains dibutyl phthalate. Phthalates can also be disguised under “fragrance”, another reason to opt for fragrance free products.
This is an antibacterial agent and preservative which is linked to endocrine disruption. Found mainly in toothpaste and deodorant, as well as cleaning products. Also known as dichlorophenoxy and hydroxy diphenyl ether.
Sunscreen ingredient which not only absorbs into the skin in significant amounts, but has also been seen at a cellular level in the body through bioaccumulation – very alarming.
Skin conditioner that like oxybenzone has been seen in accumulations at a cellular level. FDA have advised if this is applied in direct sunlight it can advance the development of some tumours. This is Vitamin A and Palmitate Acid together, pregnant women should avoid vitamin A in any skincare products as it absorbs through the skin, and can become toxic in pregnancy. Vitamin A can be referred to as retinyl acetate, retinol, retinyl palmitate.
This can include parfum, and is usually made up of a mixture of chemicals including diethyl phthalate. Links to dermatitis, respiratory and reproductive issues.
Usually found in face washes, soap and hair dye but readily found in products treating dandruff and psoriasis. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer coal tar as an ingredient is a carcinogen. Also know as Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine.
Found in hair dyes and is a known neurotoxin. This heavy metal can transfer to anything a child touches also, such as clothes, presses, so keep in mind when choosing hair dye that it could affect your little one also. This us prohibited within the EU but that does not affect products made or distributed outside the EU, so take care when buying products online.
List of ingredients to avoid found in Baby Products
Talc (Can easily be inhaled into babies lungs and linked to cancers – see johnson and johnson case.)
BHA (Found in Nappy Creams)
Boric acid (Found in Nappy Creams)
Bronopol (Found in Baby Wipes)
DMDM hydantoin (Found in Baby Wipes)
Remembering all these toxic chemicals when shopping is pretty impossible! However, I have come across an amazing app by the EWG – the environmental working group (link below). You can download it on android and apple. How does it work; you can scan the barcode of most products or search by the name as you shop – how handy is that? It’s free also (wohoo).
The EU banned over a thousand chemicals from cosmetics and skin care, you can read the legislation here if you like (link below). It is very interesting reading but it was drafted and enacted in 2009 so should be reviewed and amended to include new research and studies.
Hope you found this insightful!
This is a condensed list, there are a lot of nasty chemicals out there, check out the EWG site for full listing if you want to delve deeper!