In olden days, elaborate blends for body and hair cleansing were made by grandmothers and mothers. In the western world, olive oil & eggs were used for conditioning the hairs while an alkaline solution like Vinegar or so was used for cleansing. On the other hand, in India, Shikakai (Acacia concinna), Amla (Indian Gooseberry), dry mix powders made up of lentils were used. But then around 1930s, the advent of manufactured shampoos and soaps happened. Post that, until today, many product concepts have come and gone. But there are few basic ingredients that are commonly used. In fact, there are some toxic chemicals in everyday shampoo and soaps that you should be wary of.
Here is a list of most commonly found harmful ingredients in hair & body care products that you need to watch out for:
Sodium Laurate Sulfate (SLES):
SLES or SLS called, in short, this chemical is responsible for the foaming during bathing or shampooing. One can understand by self, the endless list of soaps, shampoos, hand washes, conditioner that has SLS. The problem with this chemical is that it is cancer-causing, harmful to eyes, depression causing and more. As a matter of fact, in 2009, L’Oréal Paris introduced two ‘Sulfate-free’ product lines which triggered a global discussion around this.
Propylene Glycol (PEG):
Moisturizers, conditioners, makeup products mostly have PEGs. Quite ironically, PEGs are used as skin moisturizing agents. On the contrary, this chemical can cause skin irritation and allergic reaction.
This variety of toxic chemicals in everyday shampoo and soaps are carcinogenic. These chemicals just like sulphates are present in most brands of hair and body care products as preservatives. Moreover, the property to mimic estrogen and act like it is the major reason that can lead to cancer development. In fact, increasingly the beauty product industry is moving towards paraben-free products.
Keratin/Hair smoothening is a hair trend nowadays. Many hair care products used for such kind of treatments have formaldehyde or its derivative in them. Other products that have this chemical in them are nail hardeners, hair colour, false eyelash adhesive, baby shampoo and more. International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies formaldehyde as cancer-causing. It also has an adverse effect on the immune system, skin allergy reactions etc.
The synthetic fragrance in most beauty products is because of phthalates. Perfumes, nail polishes, hair sprays, lotions etc. usually have Phthalates. This chemical can cause hormone interruption leading to infertility in males. Obviously, one needs to check for Phthalate-free tag on cosmetic products.
Talc, unfortunately, is found in baby powders of a few brands. This can cause respiratory issues in the child.
Few other toxic chemicals in everyday shampoo, soaps and makeup products:
Coal tar (found in kohl, eyebrow pencils, hair colours & eye shadow) can cause blindness and skin irritation.
Mineral oil blocks the skin’s ability to breathe which causes early ageing of skin and skin allergies.
Artificial fragrance is a very common ingredient in beauty products. It can cause asthma, neurological conditions and more.
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Some Important Pointers:
- Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, children and teenagers should be cautious about the kind of beauty products that they are using.
- Undoubtedly, the key is to check the ingredient list mentioned on the product. Any ambiguity in the mentioned ingredient list should act as a deterrent for using.
- Further, these days there are many new cosmetic companies budding in the market. A patch test should be done before using any product even if it is labelled as ‘Organic’ or ‘Herbal’. One should try a new brand or product with caution.
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