HealthPersonal Care & Hygiene

Hazardous Elements to Look Out for in Skincare Products

skincare, Hazardous Elements to Look Out for in Body Creams

Creams and body lotions are made to nourish and care for the skin. Skincare products help to enhance the skin and protect it from sunburn, dryness and to keep it healthy and moisturised.

However, regardless of the benefits of applying body cream, there are some hazardous elements to look out when shopping for a body cream/lotion.

The best way to protect your skin is to become informed about the risky components to look out for that can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions and even cancer.


Parabens, the most widely used preservative in cosmetics are also used as fragrance ingredients, but you won’t find that listed on the label because fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets. An estimated 75 – 90 percent of cosmetics contain parabens.

Parabens easily penetrate the skin and interfere with hormone function. They can mimic estrogen (steriods that function as female sex hormone) and have been detected in breast cancer tissues, they may also interfere with male reproductive functions and lead to increased skin aging and DNA damage.

It is estimated that women are exposed to 50 mg per day of parabens from cosmetics.

In certain foods, such as barley, strawberries, currants, vanilla, carrots, and onions, parabens occur naturally at low levels. Parabens in foods are metabolized when eaten, while parabens in cosmetics bypass the metabolic process and enter the bloodstream and body organs directly.

Methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben are some of the most common parabens in cosmetics. Others in this class also have “paraben” in their names (e.g., isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, etc.).


Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make products less dry and more liquid. They can be found in products like nail polish, detergents, toys, shampoos, creams, and moisturizers.

There are links to phthalates and reproductive defects (in males and females), asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, and even diabetics.

Phthalates are included in ‘fragrances’ which makes them impossible to identify on the products. The best way to avoid phthalates totally is to avoid skin care products that contain ‘fragrance’.


The ‘Hydroquinone’ is a depigmentation agent that lightens areas of darkened skin (such as; freckles, age spots, chloasma, and melisma, birth control pills, hormone medicine, skin injury).

Hydroquinone works it’s lightening magic by decreasing the formation of Melanin (the pigment in skin that gives it a brown color) in the skin.

In all entirety, hydroquinone is not meant to be harmful to the skin when used in the right proportion. However, the common side effects of hydroquinone are; mild skin irritation, dermatitis, dryness of the skin, redness of the skin surface, inflammatory sensations (burning, stinging).

The best way to protect yourself from the hazards of hydroquinone is by avoiding the use of products that contain this chemical or only use as prescribed by a dermatologist.

4)Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

This is one of the most common ingredients used in products that create a thick foam (like shampoos, body washes, etc). Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is present in up to 90% of skincare products.

The biggest health concern here is not particularly the SLS, but, the harmful chemicals that contaminates the SLS during its manufacturing process (which may cause liver and kidney defects).

The best alternatives are SLS-free formulations, ‘foam-free’ natural products, coco-glucoside, decyl glucoside, saponified carrier oils or castile soaps (eg coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower oils).

5)PEGs (polyethylene glycols).

Polyethylene glycols are petroleum-based compounds commonly used in cosmetics as cream bases thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers.

The main function of PEG is ‘penetration enhancing’ of the skin to allow greater absorption of the product. PEG compounds are generally unsafe for use on damaged skin.

PEGs are safe but may be contaminated, during the process of manufacturing, with ‘ethylene oxide’ and ‘1,4-dioxane’.

‘Ethylene oxide’ and ‘1,4-dioxane’ have been classified as a known human carcinogen (substance or agent that causes cancer). Ethylene oxide can harm the nervous system and it may interfere with human development.

While the carcinogenic contaminants are the primary concern, PEG compounds are found to contain genotoxin (capable of damaging genetic material i.e DNA, and causing mutations or possibly cancer).

Although, 1,4-dioxane can be removed from cosmetics containing PEGs during the manufacturing process by “vacuum stripping”, but, there is really no way for us to know.

Avoid products in plastic containers, instead, use products in glass containers. Bio-based plastics may contain pesticides, petroleum, or other potentially concerning chemicals.

Application of body lotions on the face can irritate and clog your pores which could damage the facial skin. Using pore-clogging lotion regularly on your face, especially sensitive thin skin around your eyes, could lead to milia (small white cysts found around the eyes).

CobraReview recommends that when it comes to skincare or makeup, it’s essential to follow the directions by a dermatologist on what best suits you just as you would do with a doctor’s prescriptions on drugs.

If you have questions about your skin type and the best skin care product for your skin, a dermatologist would be in the best position to give advice and recommendations.


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