Nasties In CosmeticsNasties In Cosmetics
    Nasties In CosmeticsNasties In Cosmetics

    The many beauty products available to us come in pretty packaging, but don’t be fooled – wise up and check those labels for the chemical nasties lurking in the ingredients that will only do long-term harm to both you and the environment.

    My youngest and eco-conscious daughter recently pointed out that some of the make-up I was using still contained nasties. I realised how easy it is to overlook a label in one’s haste to buy the latest make-pretty product. Make-up can be filled with hidden nasties and be tested on animals for the sake of beauty. Sustainable, organic and animal-friendly vegan cosmetics and skincare should be available to the masses and for that to happen, we need to raise awareness around the risks associated with nasties in cosmetics.


    The biggest myth about sustainable and organic beauty is that it’s useless, but you DO NOT need products containing parabens, propylene glycol, synthetic fragrances, heavy metals (commonly lead), sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates and nano-materials!

    An exciting discovery I made while researching this article is the fact that ‘green science’ has become so advanced that we are seeing natural and organic products outperform the synthetic versions. But that is a topic for another article!

    By no means am I aware of the complete list of nasties, but there are a few absolute no- no’s in my home that I would like to share with you, as well as their associated health risks.


    Sodum lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a foaming agent, but it is not necessary to clean effectively. So many of us may try a ‘cleaner green’ product, only to be put off by the non-foaming of the wash. That really doesn’t mean that the product doesn’t fulfil its promise of a hair or face wash.

    SLS has been proven in human clinical trials to irritate skin, the respiratory tract and oral mucosa – especially in individuals who are predisposed to recurrent mouth ulcers. The research concluded by stating, ‘the human health hazards are low’ due to the low concentration of SLS in cosmetics, but the risk to humans depends on the amount of exposure to the chemical. Various cosmetics applied on a daily basis may result in larger amounts being absorbed by the skin as compared to amounts tested in the trial. It is worth excluding this substance from future buys. SLS is also found in mascara, nail polish and removers.


    All products with a shelf life beyond a couple of months require a preservative, which is why parabens are included in cosmetics as they stunt the growth of bacteria. Parabens have been confirmed to mimic the action of oestrogen, meaning they are capable of affecting our hormones.

    Consumer demand has led to many companies creating paraben-free products. Check ingredient lists for anything ending in ‘paraben’, such as butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben or propylparaben. They’re commonly found in make-up, hair products, deodorants, moisturisers and even shaving products.


    Depending on the type of phthalate, it can be used in the cosmetics world as a plastic softener, fragrance or solvent for dyes. As they are known to cause reproductive problems, the European Union has banned the usage of three phthalates; DBP, DEHP and BBP, in cosmetics after classifying them as CMR (carcinogen, mutagen or reproductive toxicity) substances.

    Phthalates can be found in perfume, eye shadow, moisturiser, nail polish and hairspray, but most alarmingly, they are often not listed. Use products from companies committed to producing phthalates-free products.


    Consumers need to make the decision whether they are happy to use products that include potentially harmful chemicals. I am not. And the same goes for products tested on animals. And to go one step further, let’s support those brands that use recyclable packaging and source ingredients that are organic and sustainably harvested.

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