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Toxins in Cosmetics

‘Toxins in cosmetics’ are a key term in the beauty industry right now, but there’s a lot of confusion around the term.

As part of our commitment to informed beauty, we think it’s important for you to know what ‘toxins’ are, what they are not, why you should avoid them, and how to recognise them in your products.

clean skincare


The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is our most important immune defense barrier and our largest organ for eliminating waste.

Substances applied to the skin can get absorbed into the bloodstream. Some experts say that up to 60% of substances applied to the skin can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

It’s critical to know that some ingredients may impact you internally – you might not eat it, but you’re digesting it through the surface of your skin anyway.

If you have sensitive skin, you also need to be very aware of what you apply to your skin; many man-made chemicals can be irritant, allergenic and inflammatory, even those that promise to help.

Beware of so called 'natural' cosmetics

Many of the skincare products on the market call themselves natural but they are full of synthetic chemicals.

Skincare products only need 1% of natural ingredients to call themselves natural! It is a misleading marketing trick, but it sells and it is not illegal.

How do you tell the difference? Look at the labelling; is it certified by an organisation like the Soil Association, or another COSMOS partner?  If so, you can be sure that the manufacturing process is significantly kinder and less artificial.

The hazards of petrochemical based cosmetics

chemicals can cause harm in skincare

There are thousands of petroleum-based chemicals used in the cosmetics industry - mineral oils and mineral emulsifiers, artificial colours, perfumes and preservatives.

Some of them can be absorbed into the skin and even into the bloodstream, causing all kinds of health problems such as:

·        Respiratory problems

·        Skin rashes

·        Premature ageing

·        Headaches

·        Inflammation

·        Itching


We all like something that smells pleasant; it makes our self-care regimes far more pleasurable and can even have positive benefits on our mood and well being.

But seeing ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ listings on an ingredients label can mean that it contains up to four thousand separate ingredients, many of them toxic. Fragrance isn't always damaging, essential oils for example are fine, but artificial fragrance can do a lot of harm.

A National Academy of Sciences study showed that about 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil). They include benzene derivatives (carcinogenic).

They can cause symptoms including:

·        Allergic rashes

·        Headaches

·        Dizziness

·        Violent coughing

·        Vomiting

·        Skin irritation

Scientific studies have proved that artificial fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability.

The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics found that hair products and deodorant sprays are especially harmful.

More than 95 percent of shampoos, conditioners and styling products contain fragrance as an ingredient. (3) Whilst nobody wants to smell bad, artificial parfums going straight to our blood stream and causing us harm should be equally undesirable.

This report on Draxe lists some truly shocking statistics on just how many people report issues with synthetic fragrances.


Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in cosmetics which are linked to health problems.  They are not always on the ingredients label as it is not always legally required.  For more info about phthalates click here.

SleS and Parabens

Sls/Sles (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate) and Parabens often turn up in shampoo and detergent products like shower gel.

They exist to create a bubbling ‘lathering’ effect, which we’re told is necessary to be properly ‘clean’. The detergent is much stronger and whilst it does cut through dirt with ease, it strips the skin of natural oils that keep it moisturised and balanced.

The concerns of using Sulfates are:

Human Health: Reports show sulfates can irritate eyes, skin, and lungs, especially with long-term use.

SLES may also be contaminated with a substance called 1,4-dioxane, which is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

Environment Harm:  The ‘eth’ part of sodium laureth sulphate (and other ...eth sulphates) mean that it’s produced by a process called ethoxylation which is toxic to the environment. It can also be derived from Palm oil. Palm oil is controversial due to the destruction of tropical rainforests for palm tree plantations. Animals like Orangutans are on the verge of extinction due to the high demand for palm trees which are planted over rainforests, destroying their natural habitats.

Products with sulfates that get washed down the drain may also be toxic to aquatic animals. Many people and manufacturers opt for more environmentally friendly alternatives.

woman with itchy skin caused by skincare

Mineral Oils, Emulsifiers and Waxes

Mineral oils are used heavily in moisture creams, barrier creams and makeup, but can be  detrimental to the skin.

They coat the skin like plastic, interfering with the body’s healthy functioning, blocking pores and inhibiting the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins.  

They are often ‘comedogenic’ meaning they can cause acne, by clogging the pores and making germs more likely to get in and toxins less likely to get out of your body.

Mineral oils do not give any nourishment to the skin because they do not contain fatty acids and therefore have no affinity with the skin and cannot be absorbed by the skin.

Suvarna does not sell any products which contain mineral oils, waxes or mineral emulsifiers. We only sell products which contain cold pressed vegetable oils and fats such as shea nut butter and cocoa butter, and natural emulsifiers from plant sources.

These natural plant oils have an affinity with the skin. They can be absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin. They contain fatty acids which are deeply moisturizing, and have an abundance of healing, revitalizing properties and natural vitamins.


The following are some of the nasty ingredients to watch out for. Suvarna do not sell any products which contain any of these ingredients:

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLeS)

Ammonium Laureth Sulphate (family of SLeS)


Animal fat

DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), & TEA (triethanolamine)



FD & C Colour Pigments




Hydrolysed Animal Protein

Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT)

Mineral Oil


Paraben preservatives (methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl)

Paraffin wax/oil

Propylene Glycol - Used in antifreeze and also used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners


PVP/VA Copolymer





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