Cosmetics and personal care products are common in every woman’s life. Think about your daily grooming ritual and what it entails. From shampoo and shaving cream, to lotion and deodorant, to hair products and your makeup – which can be a long list in and of itself!
Unfortunately, the FDA currently does not require costmetic companies to conduct safety assessments on their products. Considering our skin is the largest organ of our bodies and is porous, we should be mindful of what we put on it.
CHECK THE LABEL FOR THESE INGREDIENTS
This chemical allows the product to be more malleable. Phthalates are banned in the European Union, however still remain common in the U.S.
Check the label for: Pthalates, DEHP, DBP. DEP and a sneaky one – “fragrance.”
Phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption and developmental & reproductive toxicity. Pregnant women and breast feeding mothers are the most vulnerable.
Parabens are used as preservatives to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold.
Check the label for: Anything ending in “paraben.” Some common names – butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, ispropylparaben, methylparaben, & propylparaben.
They have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer due to possessing estrogen mimicking properties.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are the most commonly used in personal care products. They can be found in foam products such as shampoos and body washes. An estimated 90% or more of these products contain SLS or SLES.
In some people, they can cause skin irritations such as redness, dryness, and itching. According to the FDA, since there are minuscule amounts in the personal care products out on the market, the thought that this chemical can cause cancer is not likely. Brands that are going “sulfate-free” are more about sustainability because sulfates are derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource.
This chemical is a colorless, flammable, and strong smelling gas. It is commonly found in nail polishes or glues. It can also be found in building materials like walls or furniture – offices tend to have high levels of formaldehyde because of this.
Check the label for: Formaldehyde, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, Polyoxymethylene Urea, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal, Quaternium-15.
Nail salon and hair salon employees are the highest at risk. Health concerns include skin irritation and allergic reactions.
Toluene is a clear liquid with an aromatic odor derived from petroleum and tar sources. It is used as a solvent to dissolve other substances. Toluene is commonly found in nail products and hair dyes.
Salon employees are the most at risk. Too much exposure can result in headaches and dizziness. Serious effects include respiratory, reproductive and developmental complications.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives in many personal care products (also in foods).
Check the label for: BHA, BHT
They are linked to endocrine disruption and organ toxicity. Pregnant women and infants are the most vulnerable.
Butane is a hydrocarbon that functions as a propellant. It is a colorless, odorless gas commonly found in aerosols like hair spray.
Check the label for: Butane, Diethyl, Methylethylmethane
Butane is linked to irritation in the skin, eyes, or lungs and organ toxicity.
Acrylates are derived from acrylic acid. They help products adhere to skin or nails.
Check the label for: Ethyl acrylate, Ethyl ester, Ethyl methacrylate
Found in artificial nail products. Acrylic nail consumers, nail (and even dental) technicians, and those that manufacture acrylate containing products are the most at risk. Direct contact and inhalation has shown evidence of adverse skin, eye, and throat reactions.
HEAVY METALS: LEAD, MERCURY, & ALUMINUM
Some metals are intentionally added while others are contaminants. They can be dangerous even in small doses.
LEAD: Lead is an unintended contaminant or impurity that can be present in cosmetics. It could be found in lipstick, and an array of other make-up products. This metal is linked to organ toxicity and neurotoxicity. Pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable.
MERCURY: This highly toxic liquid metal could be in your make-up. The FDA banned Mercury in most cosmetics, however it can still be found in skin lighteners, anti-aging creams, and eye products. Mercury poisoning can result in neurological, skin, and kidney damage.
Check the label for: Mercurous Chlroide, Calomel, Mercuric, Mercurio, Mercury.
ALUMINUM: Aluminum powder is used as a color additive in cosmetics while aluminum salts (Aluminum Chlorohydrate) are used in antiperspirants to reduce perspiration. A high concern for aluminum powder is neurotoxicity. Aluminum salts are linked to organtoxicity.
Ammonia opens the hair cuticle to allow hair dye color to penetrate the cortex.
Linked to asthma and immunotoxicity. Causes skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. A suspected toxicant to the reproductive, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.
Triclosan is used as an antimicrobial agent in soaps, detergents, toothpaste, teeth whiteners, deodorant and more. Triclosan happens to be restricted in Canada and Japan, and Triclocarban is restricted in the European Union.
Check the label for: Triclosan (TSC) and Triclocarban (TCC)
Triclosan is linked to antibiotic resistant bacteria, hormone disruption, skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.
Coal tar is a brown, black substance derived from burning coal. It is commonly found in hair dyes, along with shampoos, scalp treatments, soaps and lotions.
Check the label for: Coal tar, carbo-cort, estar, lavatar, picis carbonic, impervotar, KC 261, naphtha, distillate, petroleum benzin, benzin B70.
Coal Tar is linked to organ system toxicity.
This dark, black powder used as pigment is produced by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. You can find this in eye liner, mascara, brow fillers, and eye shadows to name a few.
Check the label for: D & C Black No. 2, Channel Black, Acetylene Black, Pigment Black 6 or 7
It is inked to organ system toxicity.
Talc is used for its stick resistant properties. It is common in baby and face powders.
Some Talc may contain the known carcinogen asbestos. Unless it is known to be asbestos free, it should be avoided in powders. Even if found to be asbestos-free, avoid the pelvic area at all costs. This has been linked to ovarian cancer, along with respiratory disorders.
METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE & METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE
These common preservatives are a mouthful! They are found in liquid personal care products such as facial cleansers, shampoos, bubble bath, soaps, detergents and much more.
Check the label for: MIT, MCI, CMIT
They are linked to lung toxicity, skin irritations, and possible neurotoxicity.
PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) is a petroleum based compound used in cosmetics as a solvent, thickener, softener, and moisture-carrier. Impurities found in PEG compounds include 1,4-dioxane, ethylene oxide, and various heavy metals. PEG compounds have been found to open pores to the skin allowing toxins to enter the body.
You won’t find this one on the label because it is a contaminant created when common ingredients react.
Check the label for: SLS, PEG Compounds, chemicals that include the clauses of ceterareth, oleth, xynol.
It is considered a probable human carcinogen. Although the levels at which it would be harmful in a cosmetic depends on the conditions of use. I say, better to be safe than sorry!
Tip: Look for cosmetics with a simpler list of ingredients. Avoid any product that states “fragrance” or “perfume” without any explanation. This can be an undisclosed mixture of various chemicals.
SOURCES: Safe Cosmetics, FDA, OSHA, Europa, Toxtown, Consumer Reports, EWG