Propylene glycol, parabens, phthalates (pronounced thy-lates), sodium lauryl (SLS) or laureth (SLES) sulphates… These names do not easily roll off the tongue; however they do roll off the ingredients list on the back of our skin care, makeup and bath products (as well as our cleaning products).

These synthetic scientist made chemicals are cheap and have excellent stabilising properties. Which means when added to skin care, beauty and cleaning products they have the power to keep the products preserved for a great length of time. Majority of these chemicals came into play around the 1940s, left over from the war. Once it was discovered what these chemicals could do they were added to mainstream products and used to stabilise and revolutionise the cosmetic and beauty industry. Now products such as soap, cold creams and lipsticks could be shipped out world wide, in hot or cold weather, and still be in ??good condition upon arrival.

Before the use of these chemicals skin care was rustic and pure, it was made in relatively small batches in a ‘supply on demand, ‘made to order fashion. It was not made in exponentially vast quantities in a ‘consume more fashion and shipped world wide, sitting on supermarket shelves for long periods of time, as it is done today.

Aside from how the use of these and many other chemicals, have revolutionised the cosmetic industry, their use has a number of down sides.
1. Numerous chemicals have hormone disrupting properties causing young girls who are exposed to the chemicals to reach puberty at a younger age. Hydroquinone found in hair care products has strong hormone disrupting symptoms and has been found to cause young girls to develop breast buds… that disappear when they cease use of the product.
2. Studies of blood in adults and teens as well as blood of newborn babys shows that these chemicals are building up in our systems. Newborn babies are being found to have parabens and other fetal-developmental toxins in their blood streams, before they have ever been near any skin care product.
3. Cancerous tissues has been tested and found to contain parabens. It is not yet know if the parabens cause the cancer or if they are merely drawn to the cancerous tissue, however it does show parabens are definitely building up in our systems. Keep in mind, these chemicals are hazardous and are designed to kill.
4. One of the more sadder parts to this chemical warfare… the thousands of animals that have been tested on over the years so that scientists can try to determine at what ??safe level these chemicals can be added to our skin care, beauty and cleaning products (cleaning products have higher levels of the chemicals).
5. People who clean a LOT and do not use gloves are developing dangerous levels of toxins in their bodies. More and more of the population are suffering from over-exposure to the constant chemical bombardment in our daily lives. It is no wonder that eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis are all on the rise.

All this seems a bit ??doom and gloom, but rest assured there are organisations and companies working towards cleaning up our skin care, beauty and cleaning products. One such organisation, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has set up a database where companies are asked to sign a pledge to eliminate the use of chemicals in their products. There ARE safe alternatives to synthetic preservatives! Companies on the database have their products listed with safety/hazard ratings so consumers can make informed choices about their skin care and it notes whether companies Do or Do Not conduct animal testing.

For further reading and for more information on chemicals in skin care the book Not Just a Pretty Face gives reference to action being taken and the types of things the public can do, such as contacting companies who use these chemicals and demanding they STOP! As well as moving away from companies who continue to use chemicals in their products and move towards companies who are dedicated to supplying chemical free skin care.