These days many of us like to do what we can to lead healthy lifestyles, whether this means regular exercise, not smoking, eating well or taking vitamins- but how many of us consciously choose our skincare products and cosmetics on the grounds of how they affect our health? More to the point, how do we even really know what is in them?

Recent statistics show that the average adult uses around nine personal care products a day (this figure will greatly increase if you wear makeup), items that we take for granted such as the shower gel or our nightly moisturiser. According to the same research, this means that we are taking in a daily dose of approximately 126 chemicals by their absorption in our skin, or even eating them in the case of lipsticks! Shocking statistics for those of us who like to take care of ourselves.

Although EU laws are in place to regulate the industry, some types of product do not have to list all of their component ingredients and some argue that the levels of toxic chemicals in them are too low to cause harm. So are you aware of the harmful Chemicals in Cosmetics? But how are we to know if they will affect us in the future? It falls on us then as the consumer to be more wary of what we are choosing by reading the labels on our products to ensure they are the safest choice for ourselves and our families. Listed below are some commonly used chemicals in cosmetics and their possible effects:

SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES: Most skincare products and cosmetics contain these although they may only be listed as 'fragrance'. They can cause headaches, rashes, skin irritations or even depression and anxiety if they contain hydrocarbons like styrene, phenol and formaldehyde.

SODIUM LAURYL/LAURETH SULFATE (SLS): This substance holds water and oil together causing cleansing products and soaps to foam. It has been known to cause skin irritations and even corneal damage to eyes, but perhaps more worrying is that it can produce carcinogens (cancer-causing) when mixed with other chemicals in the body. Look out for this one in shampoos, toothpastes, bubble baths etc.

METHYL, PROPYL, BUTYL AND ETHYL PARABENS: These preservatives are used to extend the shelf life of most beauty products, but have been known to cause allergic reactions and more seriously they can be carcinogenic. Commonly found in makeup, hair products and shaving foam etc.

OXYBENZONE/OCTYL METHOXYCINNAMATE: These chemical sunscreens found in moisturisers and sun lotions have been shown to disrupt endocrine (hormone related) activity. Choose products with titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide as safer alternatives.

PETROLATUM: Often used in lip balms as it is cheap, this substance prevents skin from taking in oxygen and releasing toxins. Aggravates acne in some people.

TALC (MAGNESIUM SILICATE): This mineral absorbs moisture so it is regularly used in makeup and body powder. Previously linked to ovarian and lung cancer, talc can cause pneumonia and vomiting and is non-biodegradable.

DEA/MEA/TEA: Linked strongly to liver and kidney cancer, these chemicals are found in shampoos and cleansers etc.

One last point to bear in mind, not all products branded as 'natural' are what they claim to be! A number of chemically adapted ingredients are still deemed natural in some beauty products, just because they haven't been made in a laboratory. Be your own judge- go for products with ingredients you understand such as extracts of flowers and herbs, minerals, natural oils etc. Products with Ecocert, Soil Association or Organic Food Federation logos are a good sign as they contain a high percentage of organic ingredients.

If you are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of changing your whole beauty routine or worrying about cost, don't be! Perhaps change one product that seems reasonable to replace and over time you will begin to choose others carefully when required. The market for natural products is growing fast so you can shop around for what suits you. Try products from Barefoot Botanicals, Weleda and Dr Hauschka, all readily available on the high street!

Author's Bio: 

Evolve Wellness Centre is innovative and pioneering yoga centre in the heart of London. As well as providing a variety of yoga classes in London, evolve also hosts personal development health, nutrition and self growth talks, workshops and on going events. If you're looking to experience great health, less stress and more balance and peace in your life this yoga centre could be the place for you. Learn how to experience good health and increasing levels of bliss and energy. Visit