Petrochemicals come from the petroleum industry and it is best to avoid these potentially harmful ingredients in your health and beauty regime for the reasons outlined below.
Some of the petrochemicals used in health and beauty products include benzene, isopropyl alcohol, ethanol and propylene glycol. These chemicals can cause skin irritation, and propylene glycol in particular may cause contact dermatitis.
Ethanol is usually used to dilute liquids, or as a fat solvent in lotions and oils. This petrochemical allows liquids to flow more easily, but when it is used in conjunction with nitrates, they may be carcinogenic.
Isopropyl alcohol is found in many hair color products, body lotions and perfumes in particular, but its use is also common in anti-freeze, which gives you an idea of how unhealthy it is. It can cause headaches and nausea. It also affects your skin by causing it to dry out and age more rapidly than it otherwise would.
Phtalates are used in hairsprays, lipstick and nail varnish, to make them long-lasting and flexible. These may not be listed on your labels, since they can be hidden under the term “parfum”. These chemicals have been shown to be linked to decreased fertility.
DEA and TEA are alcohol derivatives that are used as wetting agents and emulsifiers. They are used in lotions for softening skin, as emollients, and as humectants in other products for personal care. The problem here is that when they are combined with any ingredients that act as nitrosating agents, they have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Mineral oil is found in products like body and bath oils, and baby oil. But it is derived from crude oil, and while it may leave your skin initially smooth, it actually hinders your skin’s ability to breathe, and it traps toxins in your skin. This may exacerbate existing skin problems like eczema.
Sodium lauryl sulphate, also called SLS, is actually a detergent that is used as a forming agent and is used in shampoos, shower gels, bubble baths and toothpastes. This is a product that can cause irritation to your skin, eyes and scalp.
The best ways to avoid these agents in your health and beauty products is to read the labels carefully and select products that do not contain these ingredients. Purchasing organic and natural beauty products will help you to limit your skin’s exposure to petrochemicals. However it is worth taking note that not all natural and organic beauty products are equal. An item that has as little as 10% may advertise itself as natural or organic, so selecting those with organic certification will offer you some peace of mind.