Cosmetics: Chemically Yours


Parabens, sodium sulfate, silicon… These names will probably mean nothing to you and you would certainly not expect to find them in your favourite bottle of shampoo. But even though they are part of our daily hygiene routine, most cosmetics contain at least a few harmful chemical components that end up accumulating in our body day after day. Here are three usual suspects to be found on our bathroom shelves.

Sodium sulfate

It is a foaming agent that you’re certainly going to find in most body-washes and shampoos. Sodium sulfate is also a chemical component known to damage and dry hair and irritate the scalp. Perhaps more dramatically, it has been proven to accelerate hair loss induced by chemical deposits in the follicles.

Thankfully though, it’s easy to find alternatives: natural shampoos, egg yolk, lemon and honey shampoo and homemade soaps have been favourites for generations. What’s more, they are also economical and non-detrimental for the environment. Not for the faint hearted, the “no-poo” method is also gaining more and more adepts. Provided not washing your hair for months on end to help reduce sebum production sounds like a viable option to you, this is the most natural way to avoid contact with sodium sulfate.


These antibacterials are used as preservative agents in 80% of personal hygiene products, from deodorants to make-up products. They’ve been linked to irritation of the skin, allergies and most recently, cancer. Parabens are suspected to facilitate or contribute to breast cancer in particular as the chemical components mimic estrogen behaviour in the body. The debate is still going on though: some studies are denying such claims, highlighting the fact that parabens are chemicals that are naturally produced by vegetables and fruits and that the small quantity contained in most products doesn’t have any effect on the human body. If you’d rather avoid the potential danger altogether, just look out for the “paraben free” mention on the label.

Aluminium salts

Aluminium salts have also been linked to breast cancer by some studies, but the results have not yet been conclusive. They’re effectively present in deodorants and make-up removers, closing skin pores to seal the moisture, preventing perspiration and excess sebum. To avoid it, you can substitute your usual deodorant with an easy-to-find deodorant stone and a solution made of coconut oil and cider vinegar can pleasantly replace your favourite makeup remover.

Industrial cosmetics have really been gaining a bad name throughout the years. More and more people are starting to question the nature of their components and their long-term effects on our bodies. It comes as no surprise that organic and natural products are finally becoming a major force in the cosmetics market.


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