8 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Skin Care

Our skin absorbs much more than you might think - or you may not have ever even considered it! What you put on your skin is absorbed into it, and then travels into your bloodstream. Look at your skincare, and all the chemical names listed in the ingredients. Now, imagine those things going into your body! They’re not usually something you’d want on your skin.

We’ve put together this list of eight of the most common toxic chemicals that you should avoid in your skincare products, why they’re so nasty, and what other names they can be listed as.

#1. Parabens

Parabens are used as preservatives, which means they increase the shelf life of a product. While they’re effective at stopping nasties from growing, they are also quite nasty themselves. Parabens can disrupt your endocrine and estrogen system and is a known cause of skin cancer.

If you see butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isopropyl paraben or isobutyl paraben listed among the ingredients of a product - avoid!

#2. Phthalates

These are often used in skincare products as a way to dissolve ingredients and secure them together. The fact of the matter is that this is actually a plasticizer, and is absolutely toxic. Being exposed to this chemical can cause harm to breastfeeding and pregnant women, and one type of phthalate called DEHP is a known cause of cancer in humans.

If you see phthalate, DEHP, DBP or DEP listed among the ingredients of a product - avoid!

#3. Polyacrylamides and Acrylamides

Polyacrylamides are found in skincare products such as creams, lotions and cleansers. It is used to thicken and suspend a product’s formula, and when it dries it forms a thin coating on your skin, aiding in the absorption of moisture.

This is an ingredient to avoid for many reasons: its possible carcinogenicity, the skin irritation it can cause, the effect it has on your respiratory system, and that it has been known to cause organ system toxicity and neurotoxicity. The scariest part of all is that polyacrylamides can break down into something called acrylamides, which is incredibly hazardous to the human body.

Acrylamides can also cause organ system toxicity and neurotoxicity, as well as cancer, skin irritations and allergic reactions, endocrine disruption and reproductive and developmental toxicity.

If you see polyacrylamide, acrylamide, polyquaternium, acrylate or polyacrylate, listed among the ingredients of a product - avoid!

#4. PEGs and Petrochemicals

You’ll find petrochemicals in many different skincare products, which is very concerning. Why are petrochemicals so dangerous? Well, the clue is in the name. Petro is short for petroleum, the byproducts of which are used to create these ingredients. Petrochemicals are used in skincare to make products last longer and spread easier on your skin.

The most concerning thing about petrochemicals is that they’re known to generate an impurity that is a known carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. This can have nasty effects on your nervous system, respiratory tract and kidneys.

PEGs are a type of petrochemical by-product, known as humectants (a substance used in food and skincare to reduce moisture loss), and ethoxylated chemicals. They are also used to enhance the penetration of a skincare product so that your skin absorbs more of it - the good and the bad ingredients. Think of how much of any given product already permeates your skin, and you can see why PEGs are so concerning.

If you see Butylparaben, Butyl Alcohol, DEA or Diethanolamine, MEA or monoethanolamine, TEA or triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Polyethylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Benzene, Butanol, Methanol, or Phenoxyethanol listed among the ingredients of a product - avoid!

#5. Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is commonly used as part of lightening and brightening skincare products, and while it whitens skin, Europe has banned this chemical due to the health risks it poses. Like phthalates, hydroquinone are known to cause cancer, and can also lead to skin cancer due to its role in reducing your skin’s melanin production. This basically means your skin absorbs higher levels of UVA and UVB rays, making you more vulnerable to skin cancer.

If you see hydroquinone listed among the ingredients of a product - avoid!

#6. Artificial Fragrance

Fragrances are the biggest cause of allergic reactions to skincare products, and it doesn’t actually refer to any set ingredients. Fragrances in skincare products don’t have to be defined or have all of the ingredients for it listed. That’s right - there’s no way to know what is actually making your cream, lotion or other skincare smell so nice, or which ingredients you’re reacting to. Within these there could be hidden phthalates and chemicals that you’re unknowingly exposing yourself to.

If you see fragrance, perfume, or parfum listed among the ingredients of a product - avoid!

#7. Chemical Sunscreens

Unlike physical sunscreens, which create a barrier on your skin to reflect UV rays, chemical sunscreens absorb them, to stop them permeating your skin. Apart from being irritating and causing allergies in many people, chemical sunscreen often contains synthetic chemicals, which aren’t safe for long-term use.

If you see homosalate, oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octocrylene or octisalate listed among the ingredients of a product - avoid!

#8. Heavy Metals

You’ll be horrified to learn that skincare products often contain heavy metals such as mercury, aluminium and even arsenic! While it’s true that they aren’t always intentionally used, they are a common skincare product contaminant.

A build-up of heavy metals in your body can cause organ toxicity, developmental issues, and even cancer.

If you see thimerosal, chromium, sodium hexametaphosphate, hydrogenated cottonseed oil or lead acetate listed among the ingredients of a product - avoid!

The chemical free skincare revolution is here!

QLEAN is dedicated to clean, organic skincare. Our skincare products are free of nasty chemicals such as parabens, sulphates, endocine disruptors, phenoxyethanol, hydrochloric acid, talc, synthetic fragrances, homosalate, heavy metals, hydroquinone and phthalates. This doesn’t mean that they’re ineffective, either - we’ve harnessed the power of natural, organic and safe ingredients to produce skincare that will make you feel beautiful without any toxic chemicals.

It’s important to be educated on what chemicals are used in skincare, so that you know what to avoid putting on your face and body. Some brands market themselves as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ beauty, but they use ingredients that are anything but skin-friendly. You don’t want to unintentionally cause yourself health issues after prolonged use of products that are filled with bad ingredients, and that’s why QLEAN was born.

To find out more about QLEAN’s mission and our passion for gorgeous, chemical-free skincare, please get in contact. We’d be happy to answer your questions!

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