STEP 5 – 'IT'S YOUR CHOICE' -- Synthetics .... or Pure and OR Natural?

It is your decision what skin care products you buy.  However, in order for you to make an informed decision you need to know what ingredients to avoid when purchasing skin care products.  Take the time to read the ingredient list on the label before you purchase, know what you are applying to your skin, and know what is being absorbed into your body.  For the care and wellbeing of your skin it’s a choice between synthetic or natural, and then selecting the product that's best for your particular skin type!

Special mention needs to be made regarding the Australian sun.  Too much exposure causes premature skin aging and the risk of skin cancer later in life.  Note that damage to your skin is cumulative!

The best advice is to “Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat”. But! … before you slop on sun screen check the ingredients first!



The term 'fragrance' is an umbrella term that hides hundreds of chemicals that are not required to be specified on the product label's ingredient list.  The reason is that the chemical compositions of fragrances are trade secrets and manufacturers are not required to divulge their composition.  The term fragrance seems to be sufficient to describe an artificial scent yet the chemical composition is a secret!

‘Fragrances’ may be derived from petroleum and can contain a myriad of toxic chemicals.

These chemicals include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, phthalates and a slew of other known toxins that are capable of causing cancer; disrupting the hormone system and will cause allergies, asthma and migraines. 

Synthetic Colours

The synthetic colours/dyes? are used to colour soap, lotions, shampoo and a host of other skin care products for marketing purposes only.  They do not benefit the skin and can cause damage ranging from skin irritation to cancer.  In the product ingredient list they are either called “colorant “or as FD&C or D&C, followed by a colour and a number.  Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6.


Parabens are preservatives used in many cosmetic and personal care products, with methyl paraben being the most commonly used.  In lab testing on animals and tissue culture, parabens have been found to have endocrine disruption effects, although the relevance to humans isn't well understood.

The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety reviewed parabens and determined that, while methyl and ethyl paraben are safe to use in cosmetics, subject to concentration limits, five other parabens were banned in cosmetic products: Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben.  

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) Cosmetics Committee recently followed suit.

However, the Danish government has banned the use of some additional parabens -- propylparaben and butylparaben – in products marketed for use by children up to three years old as a precautionary measure, as children might be especially vulnerable to endocrine effects.

No parabens have been banned in Australia!

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) 

Used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes, and other products that we expect to "foam up".  Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as surfactants.

Both sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulphate can be dangerous, highly irritating chemicals.  Far from giving "healthy shining hair" and "beautiful skin", soaps and shampoos containing sodium laureth sulfate can lead to direct damage to the hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and even liver toxicity.  The Journal of the American College of Toxicology says that it has “a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties”


Phthalate(s) is used in perfume, eye shadow, moisturizer, deodorant, nail polish, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner and hair spray.

Its purpose is a solvent (dissolving agents) for other materials in the formulation of the product.  Phthalates have been found to have endocrine disruption effects, and have been linked with endometriosis and early puberty in girls as well as reproductive organ abnormalities and reduced fertility in males.  They can also act on the thyroid gland and have been linked to obesity.

The following are the most common phthalates used in skin care products:

  • DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
  • DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate)
  • DiNP (diisononyl phthalate)
  • DEP (diethyl phthalate)
  • BBzP (benzyl butyl phthalate)
  • DEHP (di 2-ethylhexl phthalate)
  • DiDP (diisodecyl phthalate)
  • DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate)

In light of these concerns, four phthalates have been banned for use in skin care in Australia: dibutylphthalate, diethylhexylphthalate, diisobutylphthalate and di(methyloxyhexyl)phthalate.


The chemical triclosan is a synthetic, broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent used in a wide variety of antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpastes and cosmetics.  Tests on mammals and other animals have shown endocrine disruptor effects.  There are also concerns that it may contribute to antibiotic resistance.  With no evidence that it has any extra health benefits over soap and water, it may be best to stick to plain old soap and water.  


The World Health Organization has classified formaldehyde as carcinogenic when its fumes are inhaled.  It is also a potent skin sensitizer and allergen.  Cosmetics companies generally don’t add pure formaldehyde into their formulations so you won’t easily pick it up in the ingredient list.  Instead, they take a roundabout route by using what they call “preservative systems” that employ any one of several chemicals, called “formaldehyde releasers”.   Some manufacturers favour this method because it acts like a time-release capsule, maintaining a fairly constant level of preservative in the mix.  The reactions that generate formaldehyde occur silently as the products sit on shelves in stores or bathroom cabinets.  The following is a list of formaldehyde releasing chemicals to look out for in the ingredient list:

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol )
  • 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane
  • Hydroxymethylglycinate

Propylene glycol

In skin care products it’s used to keep products from melting in high heat or from freezing.  It also helps water based ingredients to penetrate the skin.  Currently there is controversy regarding the use of this product, manufacturers claim that the small amounts used in products do not pose any health risk.  Others claim that it is a skin irritant.