Personal care, in particular skincare, is hot topic of our age. As we want to look good, fresh and youthful, thousands of skincare companies promise we will get the desired look if we choose to buy their products. Advertisements bombard us through every possible channel to buy the hot, new products of the season, which will definitely make our skin look glorious. We respond to the powerful marketing campaigns of the personal care industry because we want to be well-groomed and we want to have radiant, beautiful skin.



The US-based Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) non-representative survey showed that, the average consumer uses 9 personal care products in any day. Women are the most keen personal care product users, as 25% of all respondents to the survey claimed to use 15 such products every day. Widely used personal care products include shampoo, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, hair conditioner, lip balm, sunscreen, body lotion, shaving products and make-up, according to the EWG.

Personal care products and harmful chemicals
Most personal and skincare products contain loads of chemicals and synthetic ingredients. The EWG claims that personal care products contain as much as 10,500 different chemicals. Some of these are carcinogens and toxins, which are dangerous to human health. Some of them have as yet unknown impacts on human health.

Governments tend to regulate the personal care industry to a varying degree. For example, the European Union banned 1,372 synthetic ingredients recently. However, other governments do not follow Europe’s lead, due either to extensive lobby power on the part of the personal care industry or due to sheer negligence. This means that in many jurisdictions, harmful chemicals end up in personal care products absolutely legally.

Why does the industry use the harmful chemicals?
First of all, using chemicals is cheap. In light of the volume of personal care products we use every day products must be affordable. Secondly, products must have a long shelf life given how far they must travel to get to the end-consumer. Chemicals ensure that products don’t go off quickly, minimizing potential losses for the industry. Thirdly, chemicals can create attractive colours and scents that we tend to respond well. Fragrance, in particular, is widely used. Our buying decisions massively depend on our senses. We love evocative aromas and a satisfying look & feel. Both of which can be achieved fairly easily by using chemicals.

So, chemicals ensure that our personal care products are affordable, remain ‘fresh’ for a long time and stimulate our senses.  However, all these attractive qualities may come at a price.

What are the harmful effects of chemicals in skincare products?
The known harmful consequences of chemicals in personal care products include some very serious conditions. Certain chemicals used in such products may cause:

–       Premature aging of the skin

–       Skin reactions, allergies, sensitivity, irritation, pore clogging

–       Weakening of the protein and cellular structure

–       Hormone disruption

–       Changing of genetic material

–       Decreasing fertility

–       Birth defects

–       Cancer

–       Defects of the central nervous system

So what should we do to avoid the harmful chemicals in skincare products?
There are an increasing number of personal care and skincare products that avoid synthetic ingredients. These products tend to use natural or organic ingredients. They tend to be scent and fragrance-free and free of colouring. The price may be a bit higher than the average supermarket product and the shelf-life tends to be shorter. However, a truly natural product will be pure, gentle on the skin and will not endanger human health.

Aroma Therapy


If you are keen on going natural, beware that certain companies try to fool the health-conscious buyers by putting ungrounded claims on the packaging of their products. Using the word “natural” on a fancy packaging may not correspond to the contents of any given product. So, it is best to look at the label before you make a purchase.

If you see any of the following on a skincare label, it would be prudent to steer clear of the product:

–       Parabens

–       Phtalates

–       Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40)

–       DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)

–       DMDM Hydantion & Urea (Imidazolidinyl)

–       FD&C Color Pigments

–       Fragrances

–       Mineral Oils

–       Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

–       Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol

–       Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

–       Triclosan

If the label suggests any further materials that you might hear about at a chemistry class, do not risk using it. There are perfectly safe, pure and natural alternatives available, which are definitely better for your health and more gentle on your skin.

Our sister-blog, will cover skincare related topics extensively. If you are interested take a look.  Also, share your thoughts on skincare safety in the comments below.

Leave a Reply