Chemical 'nasties' and what it all means

There has been a lot of discussion about choosing products with ‘No Nasties’, and how parabens may be bad for your health. 

So, what are the nasties that we should be avoiding and why are they bad for us? Put simply, parabens are a group of chemicals that are used in many products that people use everyday. The main role of parabens is to act as a preservative to prevent bacterial growth in many different products. People have become increasingly aware of the potential health dangers that parabens can pose which has led many people to search for all-natural or organic products that are free of parabens with the health, beauty, and pharmaceutical industries. There are far too many people counting calories and not enough counting chemicals so here we explain what Parabens, Surfactants, SLES, SLS and PEGS all mean and why they are a nasty choice.

Why Parabens are bad and what skin problems do they cause?

Parabens are potentially bad for several reasons. They affect people in different ways. Many products that come into contact with skin contain parabens, which often cause irritation of the skin. This is particularly true for adults, children or babies with sensitive skin. If you or your child have sensitive skin you may find that moisturisers, shampoos and bath products - which contain parabens - may be causing the skin problems. Common skin problems associated with parabens include dermatitis, rosacea and other allergic reactions. As mentioned earlier, parabens are commonly used in the health and beauty industry, specifically used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and skin products including night facial creams, day facial creams, body moisturizers and lotions. They are also found in other items used for personal hygiene such as deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and shaving gels. Many brands now make paraben-free products for all ages. If you have a baby, replace the body care lines used at bath time, and any other products that are going to come into contact with your baby’s skin. No matter what the age, everyone should consider using paraben-free products. Search for products that say “paraben free,” and always read the ingredients list.

What are Surfactants?
How many products do you use on a regular basis yet really never understand how they work? Which brings us to a question; What are surfactants and why do they matter? Surfactants are a common ingredient in cleaning detergents and related products. They are added primarily to remove stains such as dirt from skin, clothing, and household products. Their name is derived from three words- surface, active, and agent. Surfactants function by eliminating the interface between stains and water, which is because they contain both hydrophilic (agents which dissolve in water) and hydrophobic (agents which aggregate in water) compounds. Because detergents contact our clothing, and clothing contacts our bodies, we are very open to the possibility of absorbing these substances through the skin so reading the label is important but of course labels can be difficult to understand so best to ask your Healthy Life staff who are qualified naturopaths in store to guide you through the options with the right answers.

PEGS, SLS, AND SLES – What do these initials all mean!
Take a look at the back of any of your favourite skin care products. Chances are that you will invariably notice a few PEGs thrown in – these are not the groovy little devices you use to hang out your washing but rather very ubiquitous cosmetics chemicals. But do you know why PEGS are used? or why some lines tout PEG-free products as favourable to others that don’t? You might find, amongst others, the following phrase: ‘Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): Carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that reduces the skin’s natural moisture. Increases the appearance of ageing and leaves you vulnerable to bacteria. Alarming, isn’t it? So, why all the confusion? … and are there any legitimate concerns about the inclusion of PEGs within your skin care products? In cosmetics, PEGs function in three ways: as emollients (which help soften and lubricate the skin), as emulsifiers (which help water-based and oil-based ingredients to mix properly), and as vehicles that help deliver other ingredients deeper into the skin which of course is a worry if you use products that contain lots of nasties such as Parabens, PEGS, SELS and SLS.

SLS is used to boost a product’s cleaning power and create the foamy sudsy appearance that consumers equate with effectiveness. On average women add more than 200 chemicals to their skin daily, and more than 60% of these chemicals get absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Combine this with chemicals found in hair care and dental hygiene products, such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and it’s no wonder why more people are searching for a natural solution. For those reasons, you might choose to avoid it as SLES can also irritate skin and eyes. The good news is that neither SLES nor SLS are required for consumer products to work. Many formulations, including shampoos and toothpastes, are available in SLS-free versions. Check the ingredients panels of the cleaning and personal care products you use for SLES and SLS to avoid either.

At Healthy Life we understand the importance of affordable, quality controlled, natural products for the whole family and have an extensive range of beauty choices from skin care to organic make-up and even dental products for both men and women. Alternatives abound!