Solvents are sometimes a necessary component of skin and hair products that help to dissolve, stabilize, and preserve a cosmetic solution for consumer use. The question is, how do you know if the solvents used in your personal care products are beneficial or toxic?
Industrial solvents are your red flags. Manufacturers incorporate these chemicals because they help to improve texture and antiseptic qualities in some products, but they can also damage your skin, hair, and body. Here are a few to look out for:
- Dibutyl phthalate or DBP is used mainly in nail products as a solvent for dyes and as a plasticizer that prevents nail polishes from becoming brittle.
- PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, softeners, and moisture-carriers.
- Mineral oil is a petroleum by-product used for thousands of years as a sealing and building material, and more recently as a component of engine oils, pesticides, facial creams, hair products, and even baby oil.
- Propyl alcohol is a toxic solvent that can be found in hand lotions, body rubs, hair color rinses, fragrances and aftershave lotions.
- Toluene or benzene is usually used as a paint thinner, but may also be found in nail polish, nail treatments, and hair color products.
While solvents may be necessary to formulate some of your favorite cosmetics, they don’t have to be toxic. After all, plain simple water is sometimes the only solvent required. Other solvents made from biologically-sourced fatty alcohols can serve the same purpose without drying or damaging skin and hair.
Look for products that are completely free of industrial solvents in the Living Clean store, or visit our Knowledge Base to learn more about harmful ingredients used in mainstream skincare.