A lot of people are ignorant to product labels. And who can blame them when every ingredient is technically renamed and utterly confusing. I hope to simplify some common ingredients and chemicals below.
The order in which ingredients are listed start from the most to the least. A good rule of thumb is if you can't pronounce the first five ingredients, be wary. Remember companies get creative with what they don't legally have to disclose and frequently use FDA loop holes to remove nasty ingredients from the label. For example, 'For Professional Use Only' is a pass to remove certain ingredients.
Sulfates: A detergent used for it's cleaning and foaming abilities. It's a harsh ingredient that strips the skin and hair of natural oils.
Paraffin: A wax filler derived from petroleum or coal. Also used in cheap candles, it is used to thicken products and clogs pores.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA): Because it's an organic exfoliator, it's generally perceived as ok. However it can remove the skins protective layer making it 50% more vulnerable to UV rays.
Parabens (Methyl, Propyl and Butyl): The most commonly used preservative in products. The antibacterial properties extend the shelf life of your products by 2-3 years. Alarming studies have suggested that these chemicals can lead to breast cancer.
Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea: Another preservative that also acts as a formaldehyde releaser. Exposure to Ureas may cause dermatitis.
Lanolin, Petroleum and Mineral Oil: You may have heard of a little product by the name of Vaseline that contains pure Petroleum Jelly. I despise the stuff. These cheap additives are greasy with no real moisturising benefits. In hair products, they block the scalp and weigh down the hair.
Propylene Glycol: A humectant found in creams to cleansers to give slip. Recent findings say it may cause allergic reactions such as dry skin, eczema, hives and dermatitis. Workers who handle this must wear protective gloves as it's so easily absorbed by skin.
Synthetic Fragrance: The word fragrance can indicate up to 4,000 separate ingredients, most of them synthetic. Many people avoid fragrance in skin care as it's a known irritant.
Formaldehyde (Formalin): A perservative that prevents bacteria as well as causing joint pain, allergies, headaches, chest pains, ear infections and dizziness.
Collagen: The quality we all want in our skin naturally can spell clogged pores and a formula that purely sits on top of the skin. It is also unfortunately extracted from animal skins and ground chicken claws.
Coal Tar (Medi Tar, Polytar, Stantar and Clinitar): Commonly used to treat dandruff although it's frequently and conveniently absent from the ingredient list. It is a carcinogenic (cancer causing) as well as being found to cause allergic reactions, fatigue, lack of concentration and nausea.
You may have noticed a lot of these shameful ingredients are used as preservatives. While preservatives do have their place, there is a wide range of 'good' life lengtheners to be used, including Vitamin E, Grapeseed Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid and Sodium Chloride. These can be further up the list behind water and essential oils.
Kojic Acid: A recent remedy for treatment of hyperpigmentation in skin. Derived from a fungus, you are likely to find this in creams for targeting age spots.
Retinol (Retinyl Palmitate): This is a derivative from Vit A that you will see in a lot of skin care products. Penetrates to the deeper layer of skin to improve fine lines and overall texture.
Beta-Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid): Penetrates oil laden follicles and help with acne.
Copper Peptide: Described as the most effective regeneration product. Studies have shown that copper peptide promotes collagen and elastin production and also acts as an antioxidant.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Another powerful antioxidant that's newer, potent and helps repair damage. It also boosts levels of antioxidants such as Vit C.
An Example Of A 'Good' Label
Aloe Barbadensis leaf juice* (organic), Aqua (water), Glycerine (vegetable), Trichloma matsutake (Mushroom) extract, Chlorella vulgaris extract, Vitex Agnus castus extract, Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) extract, Parfum (from plants), Alcohol, Lactic acid, Lecithin (vegetable), Alpha tocopherol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, Cyclodextrin, Xanthan gum.
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