In the world of beauty products, consumers are presented with a vast array of choices, ranging from vegan, clean, and organic options free of chemicals to products enriched with actives like AHA, BHA, retinols, and Vitamin C. While this diversity is empowering, it can also lead to confusion and indecision. The central challenge lies in distinguishing between beneficial and harmful chemicals, as well as recognizing the complexity of the term “chemical.”
Aditi Sahu, Head of Product Development at a science-focused skincare brand, offers valuable insights. She emphasizes that not all chemicals are inherently good or bad, and it’s crucial to understand that virtually everything, from personal hygiene routines to skincare regimens and dietary choices, involves exposure to chemicals. In fact, even natural DIY face masks consist of chemicals when examined at the atomic level. Surprisingly, naturally derived chemicals can sometimes be more harmful than their synthetic counterparts.
The beauty industry often uses terms like “natural,” “organic,” “clean,” and “non-toxic” in marketing campaigns. While these labels may convey a sense of conscious consumerism, they can also be vague and open to interpretation. Nonetheless, recent years have witnessed a significant shift toward conscious purchasing, with consumers becoming more aware of the chemicals they encounter, not only in skincare products but also in processed foods, beverages, and medicines.
Sahu clarifies that cosmetic products invariably contain a combination of chemicals, some of which are safe and essential. These include surfactants, emollients for moisturization, conditioning polymers like glycerin, and preservatives like phenoxyethanol, which prevent microbial growth. However, Sahu advises against certain ingredients, with parabens and formaldehyde topping her list. Parabens, commonly used as preservatives, can disrupt hormones in the body, while formaldehyde may cause irritation and respiratory problems when inhaled.
Additionally, Sahu warns against potential carcinogens or endocrine disruptors found in talc and some sunscreen filters, urging consumers to carefully read product labels. For instance, oxybenzone, a sunscreen filter, can trigger allergies and hormonal damage, making alternatives like zinc oxide safer choices. She also highlights the adverse effects of SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate), foaming agents known to strip and irritate the skin. Sahu recommends opting for gentler surfactants like coco glucoside and sodium cocoamphoacetate.
While complete avoidance of chemicals in daily life may be impossible, Sahu emphasizes that consumers have the power to select the chemicals they allow into their routines, helping them make informed and safer choices in their pursuit of beauty and skincare products.
Re-reported from the article originally published in India Today