Watch Out for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Both of these chemicals can be found in a range of products: skincare (such as face wash), cosmetics (such as foundation), shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, and mouthwash. These chemicals are what help these products to produce foam. They are both classified as surfactants and are known to cause skin irritation and cause allergic reactions. Sodium lauryl sulfate has also been linked with canker sores, disruption of the skin’s natural oil production, and eye damage. It has also been associated with an increase in acne around the chin and mouth.
The sulfation method produces compounds known as nitrosamines. This process can only occur under certain circumstances: there must be a nitrosating agent and an amine ingredient present for this process to occur. Cosmetics are formulated to eliminate and decrease the number of nitrosamines present; if they do occur, they often appear in deficient levels in any given product. Today, the FDA is responsible for regulating and keeping track of the level of nitrosamines in cosmetic products.
Clear beads of polyethylene that are used in many products, but contains an ingredient that is carcinogenic. Shutterstock.
While there are many more chemicals we could discuss, the last one on our list today is polyethylene and PEGs. Polyethylene can be found in a myriad of products, including scrubs, body wash, makeup, and toothpaste. Do you know those small beads found in some of the best facial scrubs on the market? They contain polyethylene! These beads can be found in face scrubs, lip scrubs, and exfoliating washes. Why are they used if they are known to be harmful? They are gentler on the skin when compared to other natural exfoliators such as walnut shells.
What makes polyethylene so dangerous is the chemical called 1,4-dioxane, which has been classified in the United States as a human carcinogen. While it may not seem like much of a risk (we come into contact with carcinogens every day), the problem with 1,4-dioxane is that it is absorbed readily by the skin.
Another scary thing about this chemical is that it is often not listed on cosmetic labels! This notion is because the compound is produced after other agents have mixed within a particular cosmetic product. Switching back to polyethylene: this chemical is known as a skin irritant and is never recommended to be used on broken skin.