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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Everyone uses beauty products to look good. Read on to find out how some ingredients in them can do more harm than good.

Television commercials and newspaper articles bombard us with a wide range of products designed to keep us looking good. Each advertisement claims that its product is the best. Some of these products profess to be so revolutionary that they even change your skin colour from the darkest to the lightest or vice versa. However, a closer look at the ingredients will reveal the true nature of these wonder chemicals that seem so helpful. Here is a list of some chemicals that are not as they seem.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil with added fragrances is the chief ingredient in baby oil. Besides being used in baby oil, it is also a component of other beauty care products. Lotions, cold creams, ointments, liquid-based foundations, and some lipsticks, all have mineral oil as one of their components. It is included in beauty products for its lubricant properties and is said to leave skin feeling soft and supple.

Did you know that mineral oil comes from petroleum? It is produced as a by-product in the distillation process of petroleum to produce petrol, which is used as a fuel in your car. Mineral oil is a colourless and transparent liquid, and its chief constituent is a number of alkanes. Alkanes are substances that are made up of carbon and hydrogen.

Mineral oil is produced as a low-grade or high-grade substance, depending on the alkanes that it contains. It is the low-grade varieties that are used in beauty products. Mineral oil tends to form a film over the area of the skin where it is applied. Thus, it coats the skin completely and effectively blocks the pores. This means that you cannot rid your body of waste products naturally, through sweat, while the oil is applied to your body. Is this something you would really want to use on your body each day? Consider how it will affect your baby's delicate skin.


As with mineral oil, paraffin is also a derivative of the distillation process of petroleum. It is also composed of a variety of hydrocarbons. Paraffin is usually used either as a liquid or in its solid form for a large range of purposes. In beauty products, it is primarily paraffin wax that is used.

The chief use of paraffin wax is to solidify candles. This same paraffin wax is used as an ingredient in bath bars. These bath bars are supposed to be therapeutic and provide relief to joints and skin when they are added to your bath water. The wax is even used as a solidifying agent in eyeliner pencils to prevent them from breaking easily. However, paraffin is a known skin irritant. It can block your skin's pores and also irritate the delicate membranes that surround your eye. This could lead to the membranes getting inflamed. Inflamed parts in and around the eyes cause great discomfort. If left untreated, this could lead to further complications later on.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are considered to be natural in origin but are actually a group of chemical compounds. An AHA is nothing but an acid which has had one of its hydrogen molecules replaced by a hydroxyl group. Naturally occurring AHAs may be derived from sources such as sugarcane, milk, and citrus fruits like lemons and oranges.

Most of the AHAs used in the cosmetics industry however are synthetically produced. AHAs are added liberally to cleansers, face masks, and moisturisers. They are also used in a variety of spa treatments. AHAs are supposed to be excellent at exfoliating the skin. They are also included in revitalising creams for their supposed anti-aging properties.

AHAs, by their acidic nature, do not simply exfoliate. They remove entire layers of skin cells, leaving you more vulnerable to the outside elements. This also leaves your skin dry and irritated, and cause it to become flaky or develop red patches, which lead to blisters or chemical burns. AHAs also strip your skin of its natural protective compounds. This means you are at a greater risk of damage to your skin by the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. This will cause your skin to age faster. Use of AHAs has also been potentially linked to increased risk of developing skin cancer.

Do you check the ingredients on the label before you pick up a product to use? What is your opinion of chemicals in beauty products? To share your experiences, views, and tips, click here.

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