Free from…Sulfates, Phthalates, Parabens…
It’s common to see products with these words on their labels, but do we actually know what they are? I’ve created a list of the most common “free from” chemicals/ ingredients used in cosmetics to household products in order to help you understand what they are!
Can be found in Shampoo, Toothpaste, Body wash and other cleansers. Sulfates are used to strip oil and help make your shampoo super sudsy to get that Herbal Essences commercial-feeling. Common sulfates are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), why are they bad? By themselves they can cause irritation and dry your skin (or hair!) However, during the creation of these sulfates, a chemical by-product 1,4 dioxane is created which is a carcinogen. Thus, sulfates themselves can irritate and cause dry skin but, it’s mostly their processing which can lead to trouble.
Parabens are a form of preservative and can be found in many toiletries and cosmetics. The biggest bullies are butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. Parabens have been found to mimic hormones (xenoestrogens) which can be very problematic after years of absorbing them through our skin. Xenoestrogens are stored in fatty tissues and can lead to a wide variety of cancers, as well as infertility, diabetes and obesity. So it’s best to avoid Parabens if possible. However, even though they’re not the best in terms of preservatives, the new preservatives that are being created aren’t necessarily much better. Just be aware of what’s in your products. Here’s a link to the Parabens listing on EWG/skindeep.org to learn more.
These are found in hair care, body wash and cosmetics as well as most plastic containers that are ‘squeezable.’ They are used as binders to help soften plastics, unfortunately the chemical can leak into whatever is inside the container (BPA sound familiar?) The problem with these chemicals are that they’re linked to a slew of health issues such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Pregnant women and young children are most at risk for health issues from these chemicals.
Fragrance is used in cosmetics, hair care, body wash, laundry detergent, household cleaners etc. The problem with ‘fragrance’ being listed in the ingredients is that there could be literally thousands of different chemicals used to make that scent and they are not disclosed. Generally the risk factor included is irritation, but many of these chemicals may not have been tested for toxicity. It’s best to use products that are scented with essential oils, unless you have sensitive skin in which case it’s best to avoid fragrance altogether.
Gluten Free + Soy Free
If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered why certain companies happily display this on their body wash– considering you’re not going to eat it… I hope. However, if you have an allergy and you’re worried about your skin absorbing this it’s a nice thing to know. Soy and Gluten in personal care products are not classified as harmful. Therefore, don’t consider this the end-all-be-all of a product unless you are allergic.
Well, I’ve scoured my house to find any other bottles that said “free from…” on them and I haven’t yet. I really hope this helps you understand what each of these mean and dispel any preconceived notions surrounding them. Now be free into the consumer-world with your newfound knowledge!
If there’s anything I missed make sure to let me know!