While it's easy to be won over by fancy packaging and clever marketing, knowing exactly what's in your favourite products is the first step towards better skin and improving your health, too.
Your fave products could be doing you more harm than good, packed with chemicals and preservatives that can irritate skin and affect hormone levels too. Watch out for these five hidden ingredients.
Parabens may keep our products fresh, but there have been concerns recently about parabens’ potential to disturb our hormonal balance. Parabens are known to be "endocrine disruptors", which means they can mimic oestrogen in the body. Elevated levels of oestrogen could lead to reproductive issues and affect development in children, which is why in 2011 Denmark banned the use of two common parabens in baby products.
Read more: What are parabens and are they bad for you?
"Fragrance" is a term which could cover a sackful of chemicals that can be added to products under sneaky names such as parfum, linalool, cinnamal and citronellol. These can act as allergens to sensitive skins, irritating existing skin conditions like eczema and acne, as well as causing sneezing and headaches. If you suffer from dermatitis, avoid fragranced products, as they worsen symptoms such as rashes.
It’s not just chemical nasties you need to look out for either – some "natural" fragrances like lavender oil can also irritate skin. If you're worried about redness, itchiness or dryness make some cleaner beauty choices and switch to unfragranced products to see if your skin's sensitivity improves.
Read more: What is clean beauty?
Fears over TCS use have also raised questions over whether is causes resistance to microbes important to our health.
Scientific studies indicate that SLS is an irritant in high doses, but claims that it causes serious skin sensitisation in the amounts in our skincare are unsubstantiated. However, if you have an existing skin condition it might be an idea to choose products without SLS and see if your symptoms improve.
Read more: What is SLS?