Many foreign or local brands that have their products on the shelves here in Africa do include ingredients that actually been banned in the European Union or have been classified as having the ability to cause various diseases including cancer.
The phrase that goes “You are what you eat” is truly full of wisdom to those who care to listen. Your overall health, and also the health of your skin is a reflection of your dietary choices. In addition, at least 60% of whatever you apply on your skin, seeps through into your bloodstream and if it is something that your body cannot digest, you can bet that it stays in you for your lifetime unless you detox and change to better natural or organic alternatives. As an example, your body can digest coconut oil, so when topically applied, there will be a mechanism for it to be flushed out.
We want to ask you an important question: Do you know what ingredients are in your lotions, shaving creams, shower gels and other skin care products that you use? Are they safe? Well here is an ugly truth that the beauty and food industry will never really tell you -many skincare products and certain foods that you buy in different stores are not exactly safe for human or animal consumption for that matter.
Many brands, whether large or small mainly focus on a products psychological attractions such as brand strength, packaging, fragrance, and label design, which to be honest is what gets most of us into making a decision to purchase. We tend to focus on all these factors only to determine whether or not we should purchase the product, forgetting the most important factor. INGREDIENTS!
The “Undeserving” African
A research investigating over 1177 beauty products marketed to Black/African women showed that these products were laden with highly hazardous yet toxic ingredients. So are we the undeserving Africans? Should we just accept the substandard products marketed to us? As mentioned earlier, most of the ingredients used to make products marketed to us are banned in other regulated markets such as Europe. We therefore urge you to make better choices, and also ask you to beware of opportunistic local and international brands that also flaunt themselves as organic while pushing products loaded with cancer-causing hormonal disruptors of ingredients to you. Below, we share with you some of the ingredients commonly used in products in Kenya and or Africa.
Parabens are used as preservatives in many skincare products and research has shown that they may play a role in the development of different types of breast cancer. The ones that are commonly found in products are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben. In as much as they are used in a majority of skincare products, parabens actually accelerate the skin aging process so next time you get your anti-aging cream, be very careful. As a consumer, you will typically find parabens in your: shampoos, conditioners, lotions, hair creams, toothpastes, face creams, and just practically any type of body care product whether meant for women, men, or children. Exposure to this type of chemical has also been associated with diminished fertility, lowered thyroid hormone levels and other reproductive problems.
Sulfates are foaming or surfactant agents mainly used in shampoos, soaps, baby washes, body washes among other personal care products. However, are they really safe? No! Sulfates have been shown to dry out the scalp, as they wash out even the natural oils in the hair or on the skin. This then leads to more dandruff and in worse cases, eczema. Especially when used in body washes. Sulfates also fade the natural hair color and may also cause hair loss if used over a long period of time. It is therefore very important to always make sure that your products are always sulfate-free.
Interesting fact: Did you know that in Kenya it is a mandatory regulatory requirement that shampoos and shower gels have sulfates? So if you want better, your voice counts!
Phthalates listed as “fragrance”
Phthalates are mainly used in lotions, perfumes, quite sure you did not see this coming but also in nail polish and even children’s toys. Research shows that phthalates could actually damage the male reproductive development and may also cause early puberty in girls. They have also been linked to asthma, liver damage, and birth defects. Phthalates also play a role in the development of breast cancer and has been shown to lower IQ.
Mainly used in fragrances, coumarin is has been shown by research as having the ability to cause liver damage and also trigger allergies in sensitive individuals.
Dyes are found in a vast array of self-care products like soaps, toners, body washes, lotions, styling creams, face creams among others. However research has shown that most of these dyes are made from synthetic chemicals, and are likely to cause skin cancer. When used in shampoos, these dyes easily cause hair loss over a period of time. They can also cause skin rashes and irritations.
DMDM Hydantoin (Formaldehyde used to preserve dead bodies)
This a Formaldehyde-releasing preservative mostly used in shampoos, body wash, sunscreen, lotions, baby wipes and other personal care products. Both the U.S. National Toxicology Program and the World Health Organization have classified formaldehyde as carcinogenic when inhaled. Studies have shown that DMDM can release the carcinogen formaldehyde, which not only causes cancer but is also a great irritant to the skin. Research has also shown that using products containing this preservative increases the risk of getting cosmetic dermatitis. Formaldehyde is also a potent skin sensitizer and an allergen.
Many people use petroleum jelly as a topical skin moisturizer and popular brands such as Vaseline, Valon, and other names made by large companies have almost become household names. However, the ingredients used to make this jelly are questionable and to this extent, the European Commission banned this ingredient from use in cosmetics
Would you use your car’s oil as a moisturizer on your skin? I guess not. Petrolatum is actually a by-product of petroleum. It is a soft paraffin or wax mixture. Studies show that petrolatum may suffocate the skin. This is because our skin absorbs up to about 60 percent of what we apply. Petrolatum, when absorbed into the blood stream, suffocates the skin by decreasing the oxygen absorbed through the skin. Petrolatum also causes premature aging. This is because it suffocates the skin causing death of skin cells, and even skin irritation.
- Mineral Oil and Paraffin Wax
These two ingredients are very harmful to the skin. They coat the skin like cling film, hence ridding the skin off its ability to shed and even absorb moisture. The skin is also not able to release toxins via sweating, which then leads to clogged pores, acne, spots and other skin complications. The European Commission bans this ingredient from use in cosmetics if it contains over 3% w/w DMSO extract. So best guess is to just use natural oils that do not clog your pores like coconut oil or shea butter on your skin.
Where/How to Find Safe Products:
- Stand on the isle and take time to read your ingredient labels before purchasing your products. This will allow you consciously pick out organic products.
- Always target stores that only sell natural products. Lheritier Ltd is a Kenyan skincare brand, and we equally write about local organic brands to further support the growth of brands that are truly dedicated to wellness.
- Get yourself Lheritier products. We have made sure that all our products are organic and safe to be used by the whole family.
- Eat healthy, avoid foods with mono-sodium glutamate, dyes, artificial colors and flavors, and harmful preservatives.
- Shop organic, for both food and personal care.
A healthy you starts with YOU!