If you get a little overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients found in most products today you’re not alone. Here, we attempt to explain the difference between parabens and sulphates, how to identify them, and why we should be avoiding them.
A paraben is a synthetic chemical derived from petrochemicals which is used in most household products and cosmetics. A paraben is commonly used to preserve a product and extend its shelf life, it can also be used to add fragrance.
Whilst they are effective in preserving products, Parabens are easily absorbed into the skin, and can mimic estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, and have been shown to interfere with hormone function among other nasty side affects. Some common parabens include Methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben and ethylparaben.
So, how do we avoid parabens? Opt for natural products that are designed to be used within 6 months or less. Read the label, and look for products which state they are “paraben free” however, don’t take this at face value, read the ingredients list and if there is anything listed that you don’t recognise, look it up before purchasing. After all it is your health at stake!
Sulphates are commonly used as the foaming agent and give us suds. Products such as, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry and dishwashing detergent more often than not, contain sulphates. The reason we see sulphates in most ingredients lists is because they are cheap and affective, however what they provide in power they make up for in negative effects to our health and our environment. Research has found that sulphates can cause algae blooms in freshwaters, releasing toxins and reducing oxygen availability for marine life. Generally speaking, a product which contains sulphates is not Greywater safe.
The most commonly used Sulphates are Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) both of which have been linked to organ toxicity, ecotoxicology and skin irritation. In addition, Sulphates can be derived from palm oil.
Look for “No sulphates” or “sulphate free” on labels, however again, don’t take it at face value, knowledge is power, read the ingredients list and make an informed choice that’s right for you!
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