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4 reasons to choose natural beauty products

Additives in beauty products can be dangerous for human health and are potentially harmful for the environment creating air pollution, wastewater and can negatively impact the aquatic wildlife. Scientific research has proved several toxic ingredients that are particularly harmful for women’s hormonal system.

The endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are used for the purpose of preservation in the most of deodorants, antiperspirants and fragrances. In 2016 scientists in Portugal tested 123 cosmetic products and found in 96% of the samples volatile methylsiloxanes. These additives have shown to have oestrogenic effects, increase risk of infertility, altering uterine weight or causing liver problems and have been associated with breast cancer.

What additives we talk about?

  • Parabens

Chemically speaking they are part of the group of esters of the para-hydroxybenzoic acid. They are mostly used for their antimicrobial properties, capacity to fight against yeast, molds, bacteria while being chemically stable and cheap. However, parabens have been found in air, dust, soil and water. They can be discharged by the factories itself but most of the air pollution and wastewater created comes from the use and disposal (rinsing of a product for instance). For instance, methylparaben and propylparaben are still frequently detected in surface waters.

  • Triclosan

Triclosan is used as an antimicrobial and anti-fungal agent, usually used as a preservative. This compound have been associated with cancer and decreased cardiovascular function. Some studies have shown that it can have a negative impact on fertility or fetus development during pregnancy. Additionally, triclosan have been found in wastewater as it is used in many soaps, toothpastes and products that go down the drain.

  • Synthetic fragrances

They are cheaper to produce, last longer and can have more sophisticated smell. They are derived, nonetheless, mostly from petroleum. Man-made chemicals can include phthalates that are endocrine disruptors or aldehydes, benzene derivates or toulene associated with cancer.

  • UV filters

Fortunately, not all the sunscreens contain harmful chemicals but those which contain ingredients such as:

benzophenones 3 or 4, homosalate or octyl dimethyl paba are to avoid. These can cause inflammation or allergies and act as hormone disruptors on the long run.


  • Air and water pollution

Unlike pharmaceutic products designed for digestion, cosmetic products enter the environment unaltered through the regular use. The research have shown that several chemicals remain in the air while using deodorants or parfumes in a form of spray causing a considerable air pollution. Other preservatives can contaminate aquatic wildlife through the waste water and rinse-off products we use with water, in a shower or a bath. Additionally, artificial UV filters mentioned above can considerably damage oceans. Read more on Ocean Conservancy's website on how to protect coral reefs with the right sunscreen.

[1]  Darbre P. (2018) “Overview of air pollution and endocrine disorders” International Journal of General Medcine, Vol. 11, pp. 191-207, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973437/

[2] Boom S., Jorge J., Ribeiro H. M., Marto (2019) “A step forward on sustainability in the cosmetics industry: A review, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 225, pp. 270-290, http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=US201900226860

[3] Brausch J., Rand G. (2011) “A review of personal care products in the aquatic environment: Envi-ronmental concentration and toxicity”, Chemosphere, Vol. 82, Issue 11, pp. 1518-1532, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21185057

[4] Banjac Z., Ginebreda A., Kuzmanovic M., Marce R., Nadal M., Riera J., Barcelo D. (2015) “Emission factor estimation of ca. 160 emerging organic microcontaminants by inverse modelling in a Mediterranean river basin (Llobregat, NE, Spain)”, Science of the total environment, Vol. 520, pp. 214-252, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25817761

[5] Capela D., Alves A., Homem V., Santos L. (2016) “From the shop to the drain – Volatile methyl si-loxanes in cosmetics and personal care products”, Environmental International, Vol. 92-93, pp. 50-62, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412016300964

[6] Bledzka D., Gromadzinska J., Wasowicz W. (2014) “Parabens. From environmental studies to human health”, Environment International, Vol. 67, pp. 27-42, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24657492

[7]  FAQ Fragrances: https://cehn.org/our-work/eco-healthy-child-care/ehcc-faqs/fragrances/#:~:text=Many%20synthetic%20chemicals%20in%20fragrances,toluene%2C%20which%20are%20known%20carcinogens.

[8] Ocean Concervancy: https://oceanconservancy.org/blog/2018/05/24/sunscreen-killing-coral-reef/#:~:text=When%20beachgoers%20wearing%20sunscreen%20go,through%20sewage%20treatment%20plant%20outflows.

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