Clean Beauty: Ingredient Checklist + How To Make Informed Choices

Friday, January 13, 2017

While I always knew that the commercial skincare and hair care products that we use contain harmful chemicals, I never bothered to check the ingredients (haw!) because as long as they were not harming my skin, all was forgiven and forgotten (quite literally lol). But little did I know that our bloodstream absorbs 70% of the things that we put on our skin within seconds....WHOA!

It was after reading through certain green beauty blogs, I realised the amount of chemicals I am putting on my skin. I slowly began to chuck commercial products out of my stash and replaced them with products from commercially available brands that marketed their products as natural and herbal, while they contained toxins. Here in India and even Pakistan, we have little or no awareness when it comes to green beauty because the commercially available brands have been misleading us for many years and we do not bother to go through the ingredients list. While browsing through the aisles in stores, we literally pick up anything that attracts our eyes without caring a hoot about the damage we will be doing to ourselves in the long run.

I delved deeper and began to learn about ingredients, beyond the usual ones - parabens, SLS, SLES etc which was an eye opener. Sadly in India and Pakistan, we do not have any regulatory bodies as opposed to USA or European countries that ban harmful chemicals being used personal care products.

It took me a whole year to transition to clean beauty but it has been one heck of a journey. It has been more than 30 months since I ditched commercially available personal care products and I find my facial skin, hair, and body skin in a better condition now.

  • They neither harm your skin nor your health. 
  • They are environment-friendly as well.
  • Animals are not harmed while making them.
  • They can be customised according to your needs. 
  • They have a shorter shelf life which means they are preservative free. (Anything that contains water will require a preservative but there are some green beauty brands that use paraben free preservatives which aren't as harmful as the ones that commercial products come loaded with)

Switching to clean beauty can be really confusing and I for one would not recommend ditching commercial junk in one go. Instead, the journey could be started with making smaller changes, as in instead of purchasing commercial face scrubs, face masks, and hair masks begin by whipping your own products with the ingredients that are easily available in your kitchen. While doing so, you are in control of what you are putting on your skin or hair. You could gradually start buy products from green beauty brands in small quantities and see what works for you and what does not. Do not hesitate in sharing your concerns with the brand while choosing the products. Trust me when I say this, majority of the brand owners are super sweet and cooperative. They will patiently tend to all your queries and questions. To find brands that make non-toxic personal care products in India and Pakistan alike, please read through the blog and you will surely find something that will catch your fancy.

In order to educate yourself about the ingredients, before purchasing any commercial personal care product, make it a point to check the ingredients list - you will find yourself struggling in the quest to pronounce half the names. It has happened to me when I had started out on my clean beauty journey back in 2014.


Prefixes Ethyl, Methyl, Butyl or Propyl 

What It Is: Parabens
Health Risks: Endocrine disrupters that mimic estrogen; linked to weight gain and breast cancer
Found In: Lotions and shampoos

Fragrance, DEHP, DHP, DBP 5, Dibutyl Phthalate 

What It Is: Phthalates
Health Risks: Sperm damage, infertility
Found In: Nail polish, shampoo, deodorant, lotion

Dyes: Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 33 

What It Is: Coal tar
Health Risks: Carcinogenic
Found In: Hair color, medicated shampoos

Triclosan, Chloro, Phenol, Irgasan 

What It Is: Triclosan
Health Risks: Endocrine and thyroid disrupter; promotes antibiotic-resistant bacteria; bioaccumulates in the body
Found In: Antibacterial soap, shampoo, facial cleanser, toothpaste, deodorant

3-(4-methylbenzylidene)-camphor (4-MBC), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC), octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA), bexophenome-3 (Bp-3), homosalate (HMS) 

What It Is: Sunscreen chemicals
Health Risks: Estrogenic activity; enhances the potential for pesticides to penetrate the skin
Found In: Sunscreens

Polyethylene glycol (PEG, PPG, Cocoate), propylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene mineral oil 

What It Is: Petroleum byproducts
Health Risks: Carcinogen; liver and kidney effects
Found In: Lotions


What It Is: Derivative of petroleum
Health Risks: Endocrine disrupter; carcinogen
Found In: Lotions

Lead acetate, thimerosal, mercurius solubilis, mercurius sublimates, mercurius corrosives, mercuric chloride 

What It Is: Lead and mercury
Health Risks: Found in higher levels in women with breast cancer; neurotoxin
Found In: Hair color, wound treatments, artificial tears


What It Is: Propellant made from petroleum processing
Health Risks: Carcinogen
Found In: Moisturizer, shaving cream, foot spray, breath freshener


What It Is: Placenta, placental enzymes, placental extract
Health Risks: Filled with hormones that upset your own balance and increase estrogen
Found In: Skin and hair conditioner


What It Is: Hydroquinone
Health Risks: Can cause a skin disease called ochronosis
Found In: Skin whitener

Nano zinc oxide 

What It Is: Nanoparticles
Health Risks: The safety of nanoparticles has not been tested, but they can cross the blood/brain barrier and move along nerves.
Found In: Sunscreens, lotions

If you are interested in learning more about the ingredients, I would recommend this article. Another great resource is this one.

Let's make 2017 a year where we would minimise the use of toxic chemicals and find solutions to our skincare and hair care woes in nature's lap. 


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