The 5 Big Baddies of Skincare

Step away from the cheap tanning cream! About 60 per cent of everything you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream and from there it can end up in your liver, brain… anywhere. Holistic beautician Katrina Valente reveals the top five biggest baddies in skin product ingredients. 

Your skin is a huge sponge that absorbs anything placed on it. That’s why hormone therapy treatments and smoking cessation medications are often patches applied directly to the skin; it’s a quick way to get them into your system via the sponge that is your skin. But what other toxins and allergens are getting into your cells, organs and tissues through your skin? A study conducted in 2006 by Chemical Safe Skin Care found we absorb about 2.5kg of toxic waste each year from our bath, body and skin products. What are the top toxins? Read on…


A class of chemicals widely used as preservatives by cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, parabens are increasingly controversial because they have been found in breast cancer tumours (an average of 20 nanograms/g of tissue) and can mimic estrogen (a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancer), however no official link to the disease has been established. Used to fight bacteria and fungus, parabens in your everyday products are listed as Ethyl, Methyl, Propyl, Isopropyl, Butyl or Isobutyl Parabens and are used both internally and externally in pharmaceutical liquid supplements. They are also suspected of causing reproductive p2roblems and lowering sperm count in men.

Artificial fragrances

These can contain wide varieties of harmful ingredients that may include phthalates, petrochemicals, benzene, toluene, xylene, methanol to name but a few! Phthalates have been proved to be endocrine disruptors because they mimic estrogen in the body. Higher estrogen exposures are holistic beauty linked to higher risk of breast cancer. The additional danger of artificial fragrances is that they are absorbed through the skin as well as being inhaled. Inhalation absorption is much quicker than products a3bsorbed through the skin.

Artificial foaming agents

Known as Sodium Lauryl and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), this foaming agent is found in products such as liquid soaps, toothpastes, shampoos and bubble baths. It makes us feel like our product is working properly if there’s lots of foam. It doesn’t. Lots of foam just looks good. SLS is among the the most commonly used harmful chemicals in mainstream body care products. It’s a known skin irritant, hormone and endocrine disruptor and suspected carcinogen. The less a product foams, the better it is.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Commonly used as a preservative in skin and body products in the US but banned in the European Union, BHA is carcinogenic and causes pigment loss, which is why it’s a common ingredient in skin lightening products. Use lemon juice instead if y5ou’re determined to lighten your skin.


Avoid anything with the word ‹petro› in it and, yes, this includes Vaseline aka petroleum jelly! (I know that’s controversial.) Used widely in lip balms and ointments, petrochemicals are toxic, readily available and very cheap for manufacturers. Choose organic products for your lips.

After all’s said and done however, we at Awakenings mag don’t advocate getting too hung up on all this – hysteria and fear is not the way forward. Honour your amazing body by putting things in it and on it that nourish and nurture it. Self-love is not about slathering yourself in chemicals to make wrinkles vanish, pigment fade or your skin tighten and darken.

Be mindful when choosing your skin, hair and bath products and choose quality, organic products that won’t hurt you or our planet.


Inspired to find out more about the potentially harmful chemicals that could be getting into your body via your skin? Here’s a starting point…
1. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
2. Chemical Safe Skin Care Campaign
3. Skin Deep Cosmetics Database Type the name of your favourite product into this search engine to find out its hazard score from 1 to 10.
4. The Good Human
A list of paraben-free skin care products



What is pink-washing? A term used to describe beauty companies that position themselves as leaders in the fight against breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease, such as including suspected carcinogens into their products.


For a deep conditioning treatment, massage a little olive oil or almond oil into your scalp then smooth a little through to the ends of your hair. Put a shower cap on and then on top of that put a woolly hat. This keeps in the heat, which opens the pores and penetrates the scalp leaving you with silky smooth hair. Leave on for 20 to 30 minutes. Cheap but very effective! (Tip! When shampooing the oil off, put the shampoo straight onto hair first then add water.)

KATRINA VALENTE is a holistic beautician specialising in anti-aging. Call her on 050 565 7679 or email her at Katrina@ and mention ‘Awakenings magazine’ for a 20 per cent discount on any treatment – offer for new clients only. 


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