What are sulfates, silicones, and parabens?
What are sulfates, silicones and parabens?
For the lasts years, the world of cosmetics has begun to exclude some chemical ingredients in their compositions. More and more brands claim the use of natural ingredients in the formulas, as well as taking out some chemical ingredients such as sulfates, silicones and parabens.
These three components are often found in moisturizers, gels, or shampoos and have been used for years.
And we wonder: are they really that harmful?
Why the companies want to exclude sulfates, silicones or parabens?
Is it just a marketing claim?
We will explain these components: Sulfates, silicones and parabens so that you can decide what should you choose for your body.
What are sulfates?
Sulfates are chemical compounds made up of one sulfur atom and four oxygen atoms. They are used in cosmetics for their main function as a cleansing agent, for the skin and hair. They are considered powerful surfactants due to their effectiveness in modifying the surface forces or the attraction between two surfaces.
For example, the fat that adheres to fibers such as hair is eliminated thanks to the use of surfactants. Healthy hair is hydrophobic, which means that it repels water. Therefore, sulfates are needed to remove sebum from hair. Sulfates are very effective in removing fat.
The problem is that they are very aggressive. Sulfates have a bad name because they can irritate and dehydrate the skin or the scalp.
So, cosmetics that use these components have to include other ingredients to counteract these effects. Not all skin or hair types are affected in the same way. Some are hurt in the short term and others in the longer term. Therefore, it is important to use them with moderation.
You must make sure that the cosmetic you use contains a very low concentration and does not exceed the maximum concentration that can be harmful to our skin, which in the case of products manufactured in Europe, the minimum and maximum allowed are already controlled.
The most common and frequent that appear on the labels are: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Thriethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. In the case of having very sensitive skin, it is better to use products chemicals free. Sulfate-free cosmetics use other natural surfactants that do not sensitize the skin and are just as effective. Some of the options used are Decyl Glucoside is a cleanser derived from sugar or Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Amaranth Protein is a cleanser derived from plants.
What are parabens?
Parabens are chemical compounds used to preserve and extend the shelf life of cosmetics. Chemically speaking they are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid.
The most common are methylparaben (methylparaben), ethylparaben (ethylparaben), propylparaben (propylparaben), and butylparaben (butylparaben). Its mission is to prevent the products from degenerating with microorganisms, fungi or bacteria and to guarantee that these work correctly for the time indicated on the packaging.
Parabens are widely used in cosmetics because they are not expensive and it does not take much quantity to be effective. Its use does not increase the price of the product. European cosmetics legislation allows its use, as long as it meets a certain concentration established by regulations.
Any cosmetic without preservatives would have one month shelf life and would need to be stored in the fridge. The problem that appears with parabens is that there are studies that show that they can alter the hormonal balance of the body if it remains for several hours on the skin.
The Consumer and User Organization indicates that we should pay special attention to those listed under the name of butylparaben and propylparaben. These should preferably be avoided as they are harmful and toxic to us. On the other hand, parabens such as methylparaben and ethylparaben will be harmless as long as their maximum concentration does not exceed 0.4%. And in a concentration lower than 0.14%, butylparaben and proylparaben parabens are accepted as stable preservatives and without health problems.
There are other options in the natural cosmetics that allow us to preserve the products and that do not have any impact on our health. The main alternatives to petroleum-derived parabens are substances such as Benzyl Alcohol or dehydroacetic Acid, which make it possible to keep products at bay in an equally effective way, and also being harmless to our body.
What are silicones?
Silicones are inorganic polymers based on silicon, that is, they are composed of a large number of silicon molecules accompanied by oxygen. Many cosmetics contain this compound among their ingredients, to achieve a smoother and softer skin. It is not a restorative ingredient, as it only temporarily helps improve visual appearance. Silicone acts as a blocker, that is, it gives you a false sense of health. However, it blocks the other products from moving into your skin or hair. For this reason, silicones are considered essential in the composition of cosmetics. As harmful effects, we can find those caused by prolonged use which can cause occlusion, that is, the skin does not breathe well. Even on sensitive skin this effect can cause pimples to appear.
As mentioned in this post, in order to choose a product according to your needs and know if it is harmful, you should see your skin reaction. However, if you do not want to take risks, there are several products that do not use these chemicals and use harmless components and have the same benefits. The chemical components will always be chemical and therefore their use in large quantities or continuously will never be recommended.
At The Cool Skin, we decided not to use any chemical: nor sulfates, silicones, or parabens. We believe in natural, high-quality products that provide us with benefits for our health in the short and long term. As well as greater respect and care for the environment.