By Madison Dehaven
The term “natural” can be confusing when it comes to beauty. Usually, products under this category have eliminated certain chemicals found in regular products that have been speculated to have potentially harmful effects. So what is the deal with these chemicals? Here’s a brief introduction to three common chemicals some companies are kicking to the curb:
When it comes to sulfates, shampoo comes to mind, but these can also be found in hand soap, body wash, and leave-in conditioners. You may already be familiar with sulfate-free shampoos. The chemical that makes regular shampoo so easy to lather and makes your hair feel clean is a sulfate. Every time I have gotten a haircut, the stylist always tells me to stay away from regular shampoo because it will dry out my hair. This is because sulfates help to break down the oil hair needs to stay healthy along. This can also cause irritation to people with sensitive skin. Essentially, it works a little too well.
Silicones, like sulfates, are meant to do good. They are found in conditioners, leave-in conditioners and a variety of other hair products meant to heal or protect. Instead of getting rid of grime, these conditioning chemicals coat the hair to make it soft and shiny. However, they also leave a bit of residue that, after a few days, will require some shampooing to bring your hair back to life. It may be worth switching to a silicone-free conditioner, especially if you are using sulfate-free shampoo. It can be tricky to decipher what kind of silicones are in the product ingredients, but dimethicone is one that can cause problems.
These are the most common preservatives used in many beauty products. Just like food, makeup and lotions have limited shelf-lives. Preservatives are used to extend the amount of time a product is safe to use, however there has been some questioning of whether or not the use of parabens is safe. Much of the concern comes from studies finding parabens in breast tumors, so it is though they have the potential to influence the development of breast cancer. According to the FDA, parabens commonly found in today’s products are considered safe. As of now, there is not enough evidence to prove otherwise, but some consumers may wish to avoid even the slightest risk.
Interested in trying a more chemical-free approach to beauty? These are a few products to get you started, and you can even find them at the local CVS.
For a sulfate-free refresher, try:
To condition without silicone, try:
Finally, if you’re looking to eliminate parabens from your beauty routine, try:
These chemicals may not be inherently evil, but they can be problematic. Whether you take the more “natural” route with your beauty routine or not, it may serve you well to do some investigating of the products you use.