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The Truth About Skin Care Products Print E-mail
Simisha Pather-Elias   
Friday, 12 October 2007
The Truth About Skin Care Products

We all know about the advantages of living healthily through eating organic food, but what most people don’t realise is that it is equally important to use “chemically-free” skincare products as well to receive the full benefits of organic living.

Our skin is our body's largest organ and it absorbs everything that is applied to it, soap, shampoo, moisturiser, lip balm, cosmetics, etc along with the cocktail of toxic chemicals that they are composed of. Look carefully at the fine print of the list of ingredients and you will often find an array of petrochemicals, preservatives and colourants, many of which have been proven to cause havoc to the biological systems in our body.

Even more unfortunate is that some companies masquerade as being natural by virtue of their active ingredients being natural, but be warned. Petrochemicals are heavy oils which clog your pores and prevent them from “breathing” which can lead to dry skin, and synthetic preservatives, colourants and pesticides can be carcinogenic, hormone disrupting and neurotoxic.

Common ingredients (and their effects) found in skin-care products;
  • Imidazolidinyl urea - can cause dermatitis.
  • Methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl parabens - highly toxic, can cause rashes and other allergic reactions.
  • Petrolatum or mineral oil - can cause photosensitivity. It also strips off the natural oils of the skin, causing dryness and chapping.
  • PVP/VA copolymer - a petroleum-based ingredient used in hair sprays.  It may cause lung damage if lodged in lung tissue.
  • Propylene glycol - if synthetic, can cause allergic and toxic reactions.
  • Sodium laurel sulphate - can cause eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, flaking and allergic reactions.
  • Synthetic colours - (generally labelled as FD&C or D&C followed by a number) are carcinogenic.
  • Synthetic fragrances - can cause headaches, dizziness, rashes, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation, and more.
  • Triethanolamine (TEA) - can cause allergic reactions such as eye problems and dry hair and skin. It can also be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.
  • Stearalkonium chloride - often toxic, can cause allergic reactions.

So why do our skin-care products contain such harmful chemicals?
When the chemical revolution began scientists didn't know of the effects of these ingredients on the human body, nor were there any animal studies to prove otherwise. This was compounded by the fact that it was believed that the skin was an impenetrable barrier that could not absorb anything and pass them into the blood stream.

Today we know better but beauty warehouses continue to use these chemicals in their products simply because of the lack of pressure from government bodies and by consumers to change their ingredients.

In addition to this, these chemical ingredients are tested on rabbits, dogs (mostly beagles), cats, monkeys, rats and other animals every year. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) estimates that 100 million animals are experimented on around the world every year. During these tests, animals are subjected to horrific procedures such as forcing substances down throats, pumping it into their stomachs, applying it into their eyes, rectum, vagina or forcing them to inhale substances. Upon being exposed to these chemicals, the animals may suffer convulsions, skin eruptions and bleeding to name a few, while many of them die from breaking their necks and backs trying to escape the pain.

What’s even more disturbing is that there is evidence that animal models correlate extremely poorly with humans. Less than 2% of animals experience human illnesses and most doctors agree that the anatomical and physiological differences between animals and humans are very different. Some chemicals are still passed as safe for human consumption although they fail animal tests. Why do animal-testing at all?

So what can we do about it?

The alternative is to use natural / organic skincare products that contain natural moisturising agents which are easily absorbed through your skin and will not harm you in any way. These ingredients have been tried and tested for centuries by our ancestors.

Good quality natural products will;
  • Be DERMATOLOGICALLY SAFE and recommended for all skin types.
  • Contain NO MINERAL AND SYNTHETIC OILS, but only pure cold pressed vegetable oils and essential oils.
  • Contain ONLY NATURAL PRESERVATIVES in the form of essential oils.
  • Contain NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS in the products except for the by-products from the beehives.
  • Contain NO GENETICALLY MODIFIED (GM) ingredients.
  • Contain NO artificial colourants.

In South Africa, there are only a few natural/organic skincare companies that are endorsed by the Beauty Without Cruelty Foundation. They are of the highest quality and their prices are very competitive. The choice is yours!

Simisha Pather-Elias is an agent for the Victorian Garden Skincare Products in Cape Town. For more information contact This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
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