The Hobart

Avoid Those Dirty Looks

by Laura Cini
Avoid Those Dirty Looks

How many personal care products do you use? Do you know what’s in them? A long list of unpronounceable ingredients? What are they really doing to your skin, your health, and the environment?

Readers, it really is time to come clean on the personal care product industry. It’s estimated the average Australian woman uses 12 different personal care products every day including cleanser, moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, fragrances, and makeup, containing a total of about 168 chemicals. It’s estimated Australian men use around half the number of products, but this is increasing. My friend pointed out that she’s not eating the products she uses, so what’s the problem with putting them on her skin? Plenty, it seems. Skin has millions of pores; tiny openings on the surface through which these substances are absorbed into the body. The personal care product industry uses over 10,500 unique chemical ingredients which many consumers assume have been tested for long-term safety. What actually happens is many ingredients are tested individually for short-term reactions like skin irritation, but not tested for long-term safety. What is also not tested is the cocktail effect of exposure to multiple chemicals within the one product; an effect which may be increased with the use of many products.

Some of these ingredients (like formaldehyde and coal tar) are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. Others, like parabens and phthalates mess with our sensitive hormonal systems. Some are toxic to the nervous system and some (like fragrances and sodium lauryl sulfate) can irritate the skin and cause dermatitis.

Like your gut, your skin has a microbiome. This is a busy community of trillions (yes, trillions!) of organisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on its surface. These good guys work tirelessly to fight infection, heal wounds and help your immune system. Ingredients in personal care products can disrupt this community which can cause eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea. Have you heard of triclosan? Initially made as a pesticide, triclosan then started being added to products like toothpaste and soap to kill disease-causing bacteria, to aftershave and makeup as a preservative and to deodorants and body sprays to fight odour. Imagine the effects of triclosan on your skin’s microbiome.

So, what to do? It’s time to instigate a clean regime. Use less products. Read product labels. If a product contains a list of unpronounceable ingredients, ditch it, especially if it’s going to be sitting on your skin all day like a moisturiser or covering a large part of your body like body lotion.

Find cleaner brands. Be aware that industry labelling regula­tions are lax and companies make all sorts of unsubstantiated claims their products are “all-natural” or “organic” or “eco”. Organisations like the non-profit Environmental Working Group ( are a trustworthy resource for information about clean brands. If it’s a bit overwhelming, start with simple changes. Try using a shampoo bar instead of shampoo and conditioner. Better for your skin and far less packaging. Use soap and water to wash your hands or try the recipe on this page to make your own safe hand soap. Make positive changes, keep your looks clean and your skin (and the environment) will thank you.

Laura Cini is an expert nutritionist, herbalist and naturopath with over 20 years’ experience. She sees clients, is a regular guest on radio, does podcasts and blogs. Visit or connect @lauraciniwellness.


Love this

Cold Water Wake Up Call
It seems everywhere I turn someone is talking about or participating in cold water swimming right now.
A Short Geelong Getaway
Since the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Melbourne to Geelong late last year, a visit to Geelong has been on the radar.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
May 2024

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!