Determining what a harmful ingredient is in cosmetics is not easy.
Firstly, because every ingredient has a reason to be there, that is, it has some function, whether it is to assist in cleansing, hydration, preservation.
Why it is so difficult to determine whether an ingredient is harmful or not
Before defining an ingredient as potentially harmful, we need to find reliable sources that confirm it. If we start researching one ingredient, we will find a handful of articles about it and how good and bad they are, from various experts.
The same thing happens when we look at it from the legal side. Each state conducts its own research and makes regulations. Denmark has taken the preventative step and introduced a complete ban on some parabens in cosmetics for children up to three years old. California listed DEHP (Diethylhexyl phthalate) as a chemical “known to the state” to cause cancer. Formaldehyde is banned from use in cosmetics in Japan and Sweden.
It is important to note that all listed ingredients should be in such quantity in the product that they do no harm to our body. But the fact is that we get new information every day. Is being banned from using formaldehyde in Japan and Sweden means that it is harmful to Japanese and Swedes and safe for the rest of the world? Certainly not. The mere fact that the ingredient was considered as potentially harmful at all means to us that we should avoid it, especially since there is a proven better option.
Checking the ingredient list is important
Ingredients in cosmetic products are listed in the order in which they are present in the largest amount. If out of 100% of the product, the highest percentage is water, it will be listed first. Of course, the exact percentage of each ingredient will almost never be stated.
Quantity is equally important
For example, any product containing water is liable to deterioration. Preservatives are necessary in all products containing water, they prevent the growth of microorganisms and thus protect us from potential infection and there are very few products that can really be safe without preservatives. But they can also be harmful if found in the product in large quantities. Therefore, it is not only the substance that matters but its quantity in the product.
However, some ingredients, even if present in the product in the smallest amount, can have aggressive effects and cause allergies, so it is best to avoid them completely and switch to more natural variants (and there are always good, proven replacements).
For more information on ingredients that are potentially harmful to health, see The List of Ingredients in Cosmetics to avoid
If browsing through the list of ingredients on the label is complicated or you don’t have the time, there are certifications that you can rely on that guarantee that the product contains proven, good ingredients, just look for the following certificates on the labels:
4. Austria Bio Garantie
9. NATURE THANX