Health and wellbeing | 14.06.2018

3 ingredients you should avoid like the plague – Lesson 3


Determining what skincare to use can be overwhelming.

It’s hard to choose from a vast array of products, and there’s a tonne of conflicting information. Plus, there are well-founded concerns about what’s in your products, ranging from skincare through to makeup – all of which you use daily.

As consumers, we want to ensure our health and safety and we deserve safe and non toxic products that deliver.

After two decades as an active participant in the beauty industry, I wanted answers but frustratingly, I couldn't find everything in one place. So I've spent the last three years collating and researching to solve this problem and compiled everything you need to know on how to make clean, conscious beauty choices in my upcoming book.

Truth in Beauty is a practical, go-to guide that contains simple checklists including: What to avoid and why, how to read a label and verify claims, how to work out which products you need to get glowing skin, plus beauty biohacks and simple guidelines on how to make the switch to healthier, greener products that support you and the environment.  

It also contains a comprehensive A-Z Blacklist of hazardous ingredients to avoid and why you should cut out these bad guys. 


In this post, I give you a snapshot of three of the worst offenders and recommend eliminating them from your current skincare regime, pronto!

There are adequate independent peer-reviewed studies to substantiate the mounting evidence that these ingredients do more harm than good.

Not only to us,  but they are bioaccumulating in our environment and impacting on the ecosystem, harming aquatic life and wildlife. We sit at the top of the food chain, so it's even more impetus to make the switch.

If you value your health and the health of the planet, then the best thing you can do is turn to organic skin care that is free from harmful chemicals and additives. Nature provides a bounty of Australian botanical extracts that not only surpass man made compounds in terms of effectiveness, but also in safety. 


By now most of us are avoiding parabens. There’s been sufficient press about them. The European Union have taken precautionary measures and banned some of them. They are still the most commonly used preservatives found in makeup, moisturisers and shampoo.  

They include methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben. On average, women are exposed to around 50mg of parabens daily from cosmetic and skincare products. You may not always find them listed on the labels, especially in fragrances.  

Numerous studies have shown that they interfere with hormone function by mimicking estrogen and are associated with breast cancer and male reproductive function. Studies with methyl paraben have revealed that when applied to the skin, it reacts with UVB and can lead to DNA damage and increase skin ageing.

The argument that they naturally occur in some food (strawberries, barley, vanilla, currants, carrots, onions) is often used in their defence.  Synthetic parabens are used in cosmetics and are made from petrochemicals. When they’re applied to the skin, they’re not metabolised in the same way as ingesting them. Instead, they enter the bloodstream and organs intact.

Laboratory studies on female rodents have clearly demonstrated absorption through the skin and premature uterine growth. Similarly, studies on male rodents have demonstrated decreased testosterone levels and lowered sperm count. This is why it is so important to use non toxic, chemical free skin care products. The very products you use to nourish your skin could possibly be destroying your health.

DEA, Cocamide DEA, Lauramide DEA – Related chemicals MEA and TEA (Amines)

These compounds are used to make cosmetics creamy and sudsy. They can also be used pH adjusters to offset the acidity of other ingredients found in a formulation.  

DEA is commonly found in moisturisers and sunscreens, while cocamide and lauramide DEA are found in cleansers, soaps and shampoos. They can cause mild to moderate skin and eye irritation. 

What you may not know is that these amines are also used industrially in oil refineries to remove hydrogen sulphide or sour gases from liquid hydrocarbon emissions (LPG). 

DEA and its compounds can react to form carcinogenic nitrosamines. Nitrites are sometimes added to products as anti-corrosive agents or can be present as contaminants. The degradation of some chemicals used as preservatives in cosmetics can release nitrites when the product is exposed to air.  

In lab experiments, exposure to high doses of these chemicals has been shown to cause liver cancers and precancerous changes in the skin and thyroid.

The European Union classifies DEA as harmful based on the danger of serious damage to health from prolonged exposure. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency classifies cocamide DEA as hazardous to the environment because of its acute toxicity to aquatic organisms and potential for bioaccumulation. Harmful to fish and other wildlife. 

Phthalates – Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) and Diethyl phthalate (DEP)

DBP is a plasticiser that is used as a solvent in hair sprays and nail polishes to make them more pliable. You won’t necessarily find it listed on a label, as it’s hidden under the guise of 'fragrance'.

It’s easily and readily absorbed through the skin and can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations.  In lab experiments, it’s been shown to cause developmental defects, changes in the testes and prostate, and reduced sperm counts.


The European Union classifies DBP as a suspected endocrine disruptor on the basis that it interferes with hormone function, and as reproductive toxicant on the basis that it may cause harm to the unborn child and impair fertility.

Exposure to phthalates may cause health effects such as liver and kidney failure in young children when products containing phthalates are sucked or chewed for extended periods. 

Other phthalates that are widely used as fragrance ingredients in cosmetics like DEP, is suspected of interfering with hormone function (endocrine disruption), causing reproductive and developmental problems among other health effects.

The best bet to avoid phthalates in cosmetics is to opt for products that do not list 'parfum' or 'fragrance' as an ingredient. Instead, switch to products containing eco friendly and high quality essential oils. These are not only fantastic for your skin, but also safer too.

Have you started to read the labels on your personal care products? You can now take control today and arm yourself with knowledge. Everything you need to know is in my upcoming book Truth in Beauty. Leave a comment to receive a free signed copy and be in the running to win $150 worth of mukti products.


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