There are a plethora of skin and hair care products being launched almost every day. These grooming products promise you softer skin, spot-free face, radiant complexion, shinier hair, etc. Such pleasing promises entice you to incorporate new products into your skin care regimen. While purchasing products, it is good to look for ingredients that are safe for your skin and overall wellness. Sulphates and parabens are exclusively used in skin care formulations and cosmetic products. However, over the years, parabens and sulphates have been creating a nuisance in the skin care industry due to their adverse effects. A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology has revealed that the presence of parabens in cosmetics is associated with negative impacts on skin cells and reproductive health. Similarly, Environmental Health Insights (EHI) has demonstrated that high concentrations of SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) can cause hair loss and baldness. Even dermatologists opine that it is good to use sulfate-free shampoo and paraben-free skin products.
What are parabens
Parabens are a group of synthetic chemicals commonly used as preservatives in personal care and pharmaceutical products. They are added to several products such as body lotions, shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, makeup, sunscreens, and so on. As a preservative, the role of parabens is to increase the shelf life of products by hindering the growth of fungus, bacteria, and other microbes.
Parabens and their side effects
- Skin irritations
- Early signs of aging
- Hormonal disruptions
- A threat to marine life
1. Skin irritations
A study published in The Permanente journal has demonstrated the immediate hypersensitivity reactions in the sun after exposure to parabens. Parabens are known to trigger skin inflammations, irritation, and redness, especially to damaged, sensitive, and parched skin. Using paraben-based products may worsen the skin allergies in those having pre-existing skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or contact dermatitis.
2. Early signs of aging
Another major side effect of parabens is that they can make you age faster. Board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian explains that methylparaben causes collagen degradation which ultimately speeds up the skin aging process. Hence, to prevent your skin from premature aging, it is wise to choose paraben-free moisturizers for yourself.
3. Hormonal disruptions
You heard it right that the presence of parabens in your cosmetics can risk your reproductive health. A study cited in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) has stated that parabens can disrupt estrogen hormones. This common preservative mimics estrogen hormone and interferes with normal functions of body hormones, which subsequently leads to complications like infertility in females. Whereas some experimental studies explain that parabens affect the vitality of sperms in males.
4. A threat to marine life
The little known fact is that parabens are making their way into the bodies of marine species. Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) has cited a research study claiming that the buildup of parabens and their byproducts was found in mammals of United States Coastal Waters.
Some common parabens ingredients
- Alkyl para hydroxy benzoates
What are sulphates?
Sulphates (Sodium Lauryl sulphate) are the common surfactants used in cleansing products. Being packed with strong foaming properties they are used in preparing shampoo, face cleansers, and many household cleaning products. However, several research studies have found that sulphates are not good for your hair, skin, and body.
Sulphates and their side effects
- Scalp irritations
- Hair loss
- Damage to skin
- Environmental hazards
1. Scalp irritations
In many cases, exposure to sulphate is found to cause scalp irritations, skin inflammations, and contact dermatitis. It is advisable to avoid sulphates if you are dealing with sensitive skin issues, eczema, and dandruff.
2. Hair loss
A study mentioned in the International Journal of Women's Dermatology explains that overuse of sodium lauryl sulphate has damaging effects on your hair follicles. This strong surfactant strips off natural oils and protein while cleansing the dirt and impurities from your hair, ultimately leaving them dry, breakage-prone, and lifeless. It may also cause potential damage to hair protein, which weakens the hair cuticles and leads to excessive hair fall. That is why it has become imperative to use sulphate free shampoo and conditioners.
3. Damage to skin
Frequent use of sulphate-based cleansers tends to cause potential damage to the skin's protective barrier. It degrades the lipids, ceramides, and essential fatty acids present in the outer layer of skin. The ultimate consequences are dehydrated skin, damaged, and inflamed skin. Some research studies have suggested that sulphate has been found to cause clogging of pores and painful inflammations in people with oily skin. Skin care experts recommend choosing sulphate free face wash for oily skin.
4. Environmental hazards
As responsible human beings towards our environment, it is important to avoid ingredients that are harming the life of other creatures. Sulphates are one such ingredient that has adverse effects on aquatic life. A study published in Environmental Health Insights (EHI) has also explained that exposure to sulphate causes harm to marine species.
Some common sulphate ingredients
- Sodium dodecyl Sulfate
- Lauryl sulfate sodium salt
- Sulphuric Acid
- Sodium salt sulfuric acid
- Sodium salt
- Dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt
Switching to parabens and sulphates free products is the correct approach towards healthier skin, strong hair, and a happy environment. Skin is the largest organ of the body, which works like a shield for protecting you from microbes, pollutants, and other many extrinsic things. At the same time, you should not forget the fact that skin has pores that can allow many chemicals to enter your body.
Next time you, when you are in the personal care aisle, prefer buying skin care products that are parabens and sulfates free.
Many research studies have demystified some more ingredients unhealthy to your skin and body. Kojic acid and hydroquinone are commonly used in skin whitening cream to treat melasma, dark spots, and freckles. Frequent use of Kojic acid and hydroquinone-based products might raise safety concerns. Luckily, there are many safer alternatives to kojic acid and hydroquinone that fade away hyperpigmentation issues effectively.