Harsh Chemicals And “The Big 3”

There can be so many harsh chemicals present in commonly used products – do we read ingredients on everything we use?

Many of these are known skin irritants, ingredients like:

  1. Sulfates like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  2. Fragrance
  3. Parabens

These are commonly found in toiletries and products around the home – check the ingredients on toothpaste, shower gel, hand soap, shampoo and conditioners to name a few.

  • SLS is a harsh chemicals and known as a skin irritant, yet this is included in so many toiletries as it is a cheap foaming agent.
  • “Fragrance” in ingredients can mask dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemicals. The ingredients do not need to be disclosed although many are toxic and known hormone disruptors.
  • Parabens are widely used as a preservative and can also cause skin irritation.
    Did you know SLS is an industrial de-greaser and used to de-grease car engines?
    All these chemicals are applied to our skin, not only are they absorbed into our skin they also make their way into waterways and they have damaging effects on our environment too.

A prime example of this is the use of microbeads in personal care products. It took Greenpeace 2 years of campaigning to finally get a ban on these!

The effect of these microbeads or tiny pieces of plastic are yet to be realised as they have already polluted our oceans, sea life and even birds. Will we ever know what might be the effect of us eating food contaminated with micro plastics?

Further reading:

What are microbeads by Greenpeace UK

A great infographic on microbeads by Greenpeace UK

Microplastics in the sea by Independent

Are my wash products damaging my skinby BBC Two: Trust Me I am a Doctor

Personal Care Products – Food for thought, did you know:

  • Creams/moisturisers contain emulsifiers which can be irritants themselves but their job is to binds the oil and water into the desired consistency. If you are vegan. vegetarian, muslim, jewish or an animal lover, it may alarm you to know the most commonly used emulsifiers in the skincare industry are sourced from pig fat!
  • The presence of water means the product needs preserved, yet more chemicals to change the look and feel and to add a shelf life.
  • Most readily available deodorants/anti-perspirants contain aluminium in some form. Aluminium inhibits sweating so this interferes with the natural defence system of our body to release toxins.
  • Aqua or water is often the first in the list of ingredients i.e, the highest percentage!

Emulsifiers, synthetic fragrances, preservatives, aluminium, in my view these can all be classed as “unnecessary” chemicals and many of these are toxic as they are known skin irritants.

More on deodorants

There has also been much debate about the role of aluminium in breast cancer and also Alzheimer’s disease. With no clear evidence of a link, there is enough information to encourage use of aluminium-free deodorants. Natural deodorants work with your body, allowing you to sweat but inhibiting the bacteria on sweat. Hence, addressing the root cause of the undesirable sweaty smell!

Further reading:

How dangerous is your deodorant? article by Guardian

Sun Screen/Sun Protection

There is such a thing as safe sun exposure, our skin needs exposure to the sun in order to make Vitamin D but it needs to be in safe measures. Another way to think of sun protection is to maintain safe levels of exposure and minimise the use of chemical sun screens. They may need to be used over pro-longed periods of sun exposure but this can be reduced by protecting ourselves from the sun by staying in the shade, wearing hats and simply covering up!
Sun screens have been around for quite some time and a lot of information is available on these – often conflicting and confusing. The size of the particles of the chemical which reflects UV rays is also a key concern. Nano particles have the danger of being absorbed into the body while non-nano are too big to be absorbed, so provide assurance they will remain on the surface of the skin.
Scientists have been raising awareness of the impact of chemical sunscreens on marine life for quite some time. Their concerns are around two ingredients: oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are potentially harmful to corals and marine life with some beaches banning their use!
Are you comfortable to apply sun creams containing these ingredients?

Further reading:

Sunscreen ban by BBC News

Sunscreen at the beach by The Guardian

What can you do?

First check products you use, look for “The Big 3” and do your own research (start with our further reading links above) and see how comfortable you are to continue using these products.
Look for alternative products, there are so many amazing companies making cleaner ones. Ethically sourced products actually have a more plant-based nature with many consciously reducing synthetic chemical ingredients too. In my view, a win win situation to go for vegan friendly products.
Overall, choose balms and oils over creams, switch to a natural deodorant, use less (better quality mineral) sunscreen and more controlled exposure, choose natural scents derived from essential oils. It is hard to make changes but realising that you have a choice is the first step!

Choose clean, raw, natural, sustainable, eco-friendly and above all, know what is in your products!

Support the practises you would like to see flourish.


#cleanliving #naturalliving #nontoxicliving #sensitiveskin #allergies#protectyourskin #lesschemicalsathome #protectyourfamily #chemicalsinyourclothes #allergytriggers #blueplanet #harshchemicals #protectourenvironment #naturalskincare


What I write are my own personal views and I don’t endorse any content on external websites. I am also not advising on best course of action and recommend you do your own research.


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