When it comes to touting clean beauty, there are many brands/influencers/beauty editors who describe certain ingredients as ‘toxic’ or claim that products are free from ‘toxic’ ingredients. But what does this mean, really?
Anything that’s toxic is harmful or detrimental to our health. In the case of skincare and cosmetics, to our skin.
It’s important to understand what it means for an ingredient to be toxic. A lot of the time, ‘toxic’ ingredients are found in everyday things from food to vaccines. This is because of chemistry, certain elements are combined, they neutralise each other. Also, the volume of an ingredient in a formula is a key determinant in whether it’s toxic. In that sense, everything can be poisonous if you have too much of it – from water to mercury.
Putting it simply, it’s volume that determines whether an ingredient is poisonous, and not necessarily the ingredient itself.
Take for instance one of the most demonised ingredients on the market – parabens. Despite being one of the most common ingredients in beauty products, internet rumours of parabens causing cancer are still prevalent even though they’ve largely been debunked by the scientific community. Many magazines and beauty influencers still advise users to be wary of parabens, leading to people steering clear of them. Of course, this is a personal decision, but it’s important to properly understand skincare ingredients, how they work, and why you’d want to avoid using certain ingredients instead of falling into the trap of a hype.
Uncovering parabens and preservatives