Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Thursday, July 19, 2018 11:07 pm
May 30, 2017

Put good on, get good out

by Randima Herath, Online Editor-in-Chief
When it comes to personal care, there’s no better reminder that if you put good in, you get good out. For many, it comes as a no-brainer that if you use harmful products, you won’t like the results. But it’s important to know that despite this common sense, many still tend to mindlessly purchase products containing harmful ingredients, fooled by glamorous advertisements or clever labels. The truth is that any harmful ingredients can directly enter the bloodstream when the product is applied to skin or hair. It’s time to pay attention to the ingredient labels and switch to more natural products that are more effective in the long run.

Sodium lauryl sulfate

This chemical lurks in shampoos, body washes, face washes and toothpaste. Sodium lauryl sulfate has been linked to serious skin irritation, acne around the mouth and chin and even hormonal imbalances. Although this additive is derived from coconuts, it can be contaminated with a toxic byproduct during the manufacturing process.

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

If the National Toxicology Program labels this chemical as a possible carcinogen, you shouldn’t have to think twice about avoiding it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that consumption of BHA in small amounts is okay, but that’s not a chance worth taking. Exfoliants and skin brighteners are likely to contain BHA and with overuse, can cause skin depigmentation. According to the Environmental Working Group, other health concerns include endocrine disruption and organ toxicity.
Applying skin cream can be dangerous if you don't look at the ingredients. Courtesy of L'Oreal
Applying skin cream can be dangerous if you don't look at the ingredients.


These chemicals are often used in cosmetics as preservatives to prevent bacterial growth within the product. The synthetic compound appears in the ingredients of many shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial cleansers and scrubs. In studies from the past, parabens have been linked to endocrine disruption due to their ability to mimic the hormone estrogen. It’s also been shown to have ties to skin and breast cancer as well as reproductive and developmental disorders. Despite the FDA acknowledging these findings, they have not declared parabens as harmful. So the next time you find yourself in the cosmetics section of a store, remember to do yourself a favor and choose products labeled “paraben free.”

Polyethylene glycols (PEGs)

Ever wondered what those colorful little beads are in a scrub, face wash or exfoliator? As petroleum-based compounds, these beads are supposed to be more gentle on the skin than ingredients found in organic products, such as walnut shells. But depending on how these beads were manufactured, they can be contaminated by ethylene oxide or 1,4-dioxane. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, ethylene oxide is classified as a known carcinogen while the latter is only a possible carcinogen. These PEGs increase the permeability of the skin and allow for greater absorption of any harmful ingredients, which can cause irritation on damaged skin.

Natural skincare

It’s important to remember that the cosmetic industry is largely unregulated. Otherwise, many of these chemicals would not be present in the products people so readily purchase. You are responsible for your personal care and should take the time to read ingredient labels so you know which products to avoid and which ones are beneficial.

Doing some research online also gives you a chance to find products that are truly 100 percent natural and organic - and don’t just claim to be. Read up on reviews and websites with trustworthy information regarding the products you use or plan to use and their ingredients.

Don’t underestimate the power of natural ingredients. People have been using natural ingredients since the beginning of time for all types of personal care - and for a reason. With going natural, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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