Browsing the beauty aisle, it’s easy to be enticed by beautiful packaging and claims to restore your youthful glow or banish wrinkles. But the fact of the matter is that many cosmetics are made with dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to your health.
It’s great that labeling laws for cosmetics are in place that require companies to disclose ingredients. But oftentimes we have no idea if those ingredients are safe or not. (If you know what butylated hydroxyanisole can do, more power to you.) Many cosmetic products do not have to be reviewed or approved before going to the market. The FDA will only investigate after scientific evidence has been compiled to deem a chemical as unsafe. Companies can also submit applications to be allowed to add “And other ingredients” to their labels or omit ingredients as a “Trade Secret”, which just adds to the confusion.
- Did you know? Our skin is the largest detoxification organ in the body. Applying cosmetic products daily that may contain endocrine (hormone) disrupters, carcinogens, and pesticides could have serious long term health effects.
Beauty products can be fun, boost confidence, and many claim to have beneficial properties such as diminishing age spots and improving problematic skin, but at what cost to our long term health?
Here are some common chemicals to avoid the next time you’re at the beauty counter.
Titanium Dioxide – As nano-particles, it can harm respiratory organs when inhaled. (Often found in mineral powder foundation)
Parabens – Any ingredient ending in “paraben” i.e. methylparaben and propylparaben. They are preservatives used to extend shelf life that are also hormone disrupters found in breast cancer tissue. They have also been linked to reproductive toxicity. (Often found in shampoo, conditioner, lotion, foundation)
1,4-dioxane – This chemical won’t be listed on the ingredient list, but is often used in products like shampoos and body wash that can form “suds”. It is a possible carcinogen that is introduced in the manufacturing process. (Often found in shampoo, soap, body wash)
Coal Tar – Coal tar can contain PHAs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which have been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer. (Often found in shampoo, lotion, soap)
Lead – A neurotoxin that won’t be listed on the label but sneaks its way in during manufacturing processes and resides in the vast majority of lipsticks. (Often found in lipstick, foundation)
BHT, BHA – Butylated compounds are used as a preservative and antioxidant. The National Toxicity program lists BHA as “Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”. It can also be toxic to kidney function and the reproductive system, as well as an endocrine disrupter. (Often found in lipstick, eye shadow)
Fragrance – Can be deemed as a “trade secret” and generally falls under the “and other ingredients” list or just listed as “fragrance”. So mysterious. No, thank you. (Can be listed on any cosmetic product)
Phthalates – An endocrine disrupter that falls under this “fragrance” category” and has been banned from cosmetic use in the European Union. (Often found in nail polish)
Oxybenzone – A carcinogen that mimics estrogen in the body (leading to fertility and reproductive problems) and can cause skin allergies. (Often found in sunscreens and moisturizers with SPF)
P.S. We happen to think the daily application of a safe sunscreen is a great preventative measure against skin cancer. Check out a list of safe choices here.
For additional reading check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.