Elma Rivera, product developer and co-owner of Meadowsweet, offers her tips on how consumers can ensure they avoid the ‘nasties’ and purchase only the healthiest products.
Take your time
It’s important, when shopping, to take your time. You need to have the time to carefully consider each product you plan on buying – from the ingredients to the way it is made to its benefits. Careful investigation is required to determine whether a product is good for you as a whole.
Try to avoid parabens
Look out for products with an ingredient that ends in ‘-paraben’, including methylparaben, ethylparaben and propylparaben. Paraben is a chemical preservative that some research has suggested is linked to breast cancer. That said, there isn’t any conclusive evidence, but it’s always good to take stock of what you’re applying to your skin.
Scrutinise your soap
Most soaps and shampoos contain sodium laureth sulphate (SLS). Experts are concerned that due to the miniscule size of SLS molecules, the chemical can easily be absorbed by the skin. While trace amounts of SLS is harmless, it has been noted as a carcinogenic. It’s therefore best to use shampoos, body washes and soaps with ammonium lauryl sulphate (ALS) – this substance’s molecules are so large that it’s very difficult for the skin to absorb them, rendering them harmless especially in a wash and rinse situation.
‘Natural’ may not mean ‘nice’
Some natural ingredients are as beneficial to your health as they make themselves out to be. Some brands claim organic as a product benefit when only a small percentage of the actual product is organic. When buying organic products, always look for certification by credible international bodies such as ECOCERT, LEAF or the Dutch/German-based Control Union.
Investigate your ingredients
The ingredients on cosmetics products are listed in order of volume – you’ll usually see aqua (water) as the first ingredient listed, because most products are water-based. The three ingredients you’re most likely to see listed just after water are glyceryl stearate, cetyl alcohol, and stearic acid. While all three are safe to use in volumes of less than 3%, it’s best to avoid products where they are listed at the top of the ingredients.