Choosing Wisely

There are many reasons why we buy a particular product – some of our reasons are conscious, some are unconscious.

There are many reasons why we buy a particular product – some of our reasons are conscious, some are unconscious. For example, we might want to be proactive in changing our behaviour to be more ‘green’ and ethically-driven, so we actively seek products that fit in with our idea of how we want to live. Researchers have termed this “ethical obligation,” and have shown that it informs our attitudes, and what we subsequently buy and consume7.

Sometimes, though, we make choices that are unconscious, so, for example, we make decisions that are led by the marketing and branding of products, particularly if they are endorsed by a celebrity we admire 8.

 

So, how do you choose wisely and not be misled by clever marketing?

You can start by checking all your beauty and skincare products to see if they contain any of the “Terrible Ten” ingredients on our Greenwashing page. You can also check if there are any other nasties in the product, such as parabens, phthalates, dimethylol, non-natural propylene glycol, MI, MIT, or MCI.

The Soil Association9 itemises these chemicals, explaining why they may be used, and why we should avoid products containing them.

Ingredients to avoid

Parabens

These are made from a petrochemical and may be shown on the label as methylparaben, ethylparaben or propylparaben. In fact, anything that ends in paraben. Links have been made to breast cancer and research has shown that they can disrupt hormones. This is of concern because many of us use lots of different products, so we are absorbing a cocktail of different hormone disrupting chemicals.

According to the Soil Association, “It has been estimated that more than 90% of non-organic cosmetic products contain some form of paraben.”

So why do so many products contain parabens? They are used to prolong the shelf life of the product, so they might be manufactured years before you buy and use them.

MI, MIT, or MCI:

You may see this labelled on skincare products such as cream cleansers, facial and baby wipes as methylisothiazolinone, or methylchloroisothiazolinone.

In 2013, The Telegraph ran an article citing this chemical in a headline:

“A chemical found in everyday cosmetics and household cleaning products may be responsible for an ‘epidemic’ of painful skin allergies, doctors have warned10.” 

A research paper highlighted the problem in 2010, where they found that patients using facial wipes and intimate hygiene wipes containing methylisothiazolinone were sensitised to the chemical and developed contact dermatitis11. Prolonged exposure to low levels (it is also found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners) may also damage the developing nervous system12.

Non-natural propylene glycol:

This is found on the label as PG or Propanediol. It is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture, so it is widely used as a moisturiser in creams, moisturisers, and lotions. Although it is used as a skin conditioner, it has also been associated with skin irritation and allergenic contact dermatitis, as well as health conditions such as organ toxicity.

Phthalates:

These are added to personal care products such as perfumes, nail polishes, and hair sprays to prolong fragrances. They can be difficult to identify as there are many variations, always ending in P, but commonly found on the label as DEPDBP, DEHP, BBzP, DMP, or MEP. Phthalates mimic the sex hormone oestrogen, and pass into the environment causing infertility, sex change in animals, and are associated with many serious health problems, such as breast cancer47.

Dimethylol:

When water is added to a product microbial growth can occur, so we need to add some form of antimicrobial to prevent the growth of pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria. Dimethylol is used for this and can be seen on the label as Dimethylol urea, dimethylol dimethyl hydanton or DMDM hydanton. Whilst we recognise the need for an antimicrobial in water-based products, there are several natural or nature identical preservatives that are available and are a much better alternative. Dimethylol can be found in shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers, bath products, make up bases, and foundations.

When you have recovered from searching all the labels, have a look at the product’s packaging.

Is it all or mostly recyclable? Is it made from recycled materials? We are all aware of the need to reduce our use of single-use supermarket bags, but we could go much further in reducing the use of unnecessary packaging. So, do you need any more convincing to choose organic?

Why choose organic?

No animal testing

No Genetically Modified (GM) derived ingredients

No controversial chemicals

No parabens and phthalates

No synthetic colours, dyes, or fragrances

No nano particles.

In addition, organic skincare products have higher levels of antioxidants13, contain sustainably sourced organic ingredients, have biodegradable ingredients, use minimal packaging with maximum recycled content, and make informed choices to protect wildlife and biodiversity.

At Purely Skincare, we follow the COSMOS ideals for organic products, with 100% organic ingredients where they are available.

You can be reassured that we never use nasties in our products and make them in the eco-friendliest way that we can. As new technologies become available, such as biodegradable bottles and jars, we will incorporate them into our range, replacing our current packaging.