Due to a series of recent events I have begun to take a large interest in the ingredients of the products I buy. To some this may seem odd but since I have taken the time to actually look at what is contained within them I have become a lot more aware of how deceiving some brands are about so called 'natural' or 'skin caring' products. I was recently having a bath round my sister in laws and noticed that her bubble bath by Simple had SLS as number 2 on the ingredients list as well as parabens. The Sanex hair and body wash sat next to it, which is marketed with a 'kind to skin' attitude and multipurpose for children also had a high content of SLS.
Not long after I found myself in the Hamleys store in Cardiff searching for a 1st birthday present. Of course, I ended up in the baby & bath section. Picking up a translucent duck shaped bubble bath I took a quick look at the ingredients, just out of interest. This £2 duck bubble bath, which to anyone else would be really appealing to both bathe their babies in and/or to give as part of a gift contained SLS and two parabens. Another bubble bath that I picked up contained the same. All of this just lead me to think that we cannot really trust retailers to sell us the best products for us or our children. I know that Hamleys don't claim to sell organic or natural products, after all they are a toy store, but even the sweets and chocolate bars in there contained hazardous warnings about certain 'E' ingredients that might have an adverse effect to children under the age of three. Every adult and parent should have the right to make informed choices about what they buy for their children but when I think about the rest of my family and those that have children, I am 100% sure that they wouldn't know about these ingredients, it is unlikely they even look at them. I am sure this goes for the majority of my friends too. Below I have listed a few ingredients that I find are commonly found in shower and bathing products and a little bit about them...
Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate or SLS; An emulsifier & detergent that is extremely cheap and is used to make products foam. While there is research being undertaken to prove its links as a carcinogen (it is exposed to a dodgy ingredient called 1,4 dioxane during the manufacture process which is thought to be carcinogenic), SLS is a skin irritant. Putting it in skincare products such as bubble bath and shower gel will do your skin no good at all and would be best to avoid it if you suffer with sensitive skin or eczema for example, and I wouldn't recommend using it on baby's skin either. It is a way for companies to produce foamy products with little cost to maximise profit. It is classed on EWG as a 'moderate hazard' but when it is contained second on the ingredients list (after Aqua/Water) on the majority of products you have to wonder how much of the product you're paying for is an undesirable, cheap ingredient. I have struggled to find any shower products that do not contain SLS (L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil is free from SLS and parabens if you are interested in changing your products or routine.)
Sodium Hydroxide; A strong chemical that is mainly used to balance pH in skincare but in it's pure form is a strong corrosive that is also used in cleaning products. It is highly dangerous and it only takes one google search to see its links with blindness and chemical burns as well as several articles about how reactive it is. Obviously this pure, dangerous form will not be contained within cosmetics as it will have to go through a chemical change to make it safe to use, but it might make you wonder about whether you want even an ounce of it in a product that is meant to be looking after your skin and whether it's inclusion is completely necessary and could instead be swapped for something else.
Mineral Oil; To the untrained eye, mineral oil probably sounds appealing. 'Mmm, an oil full of minerals! That'll be great for me!' but actaully it is a by product of the process of making petrol and gas from crude oil. Untreated mineral oil is a known carcinogen however refined oil isn't believed to be too harmful. Some argue that Mineral Oil interferes with the production of oestrogen and can cause a harmful imbalance. Mineral Oil is in lots of lip products and actually pulls moisture away from the skin and acts as a barrier, causing a disruption to the skins natural balance that helps keep you healthy. It creates a film on top of the skin and is in many cleansers (Lancome and Shu Uemura for example).
Parabens eg. Methylparaban or Propylparaben; These are used in the cosmetics industry because they are an effective preservative. Similarly to SLS they are low on cost so allow the manufacturer to create long lasting 'fresher for longer' products without spending much money. There has been scientific links with cancer and breast cancer been made with the use of paraben and it is known that there are thought to be links between deoderants containing parabens and breast cancer. However both Methyl and Propylparaben have been OK'd and are 'Generally Recognised As Safe' by the FDA however many people continue to choose to avoid them.
The problem with these ingredients is that they have been used in cosmetic products for such a long time that it is hard to argue how dangerous they really are. We can only make an informed decision based on our personal preferences.
I use products that contain both SLS and parabens, I find it difficult to avoid them on a day to day basis (though not impossible if you are committed) but seeing these ingredients in baby products just hit home with me and made me realise that it is not something I would want any future children to come in contact with, nor any future children that my family or friends have. I thought a post naming a few most common ingredients and what they really are may help a few people out there or make them think twice and check the ingredients list before exposing either themselves or their children to a product that may not actually do any harm, but will certainly not do them any good either. A small amount of research will show that there are companies committed to creating honest skincare, containing none of the above ingredients (amongst others)- examples of these are Jao and Bodhi.
I hope this has interested some of you. I am not trying to scare monger anybody, but I believe as consumers we deserve to get what we pay for- if we are paying for skin care, then we deserve for it to care for our skin. I don't think that is too much to ask!