The aura of beauty and glamour is all around, which makes it nearly impossible to ignore. However, the usage of beauty products should be done with the utmost care by having a close look at its ingredients. Some are packed with numerous chemicals, some of which are toxic and are absorbed by the body. Many of the chemicals are skin irritants, skin penetrators, and endocrine disruptors. The following are ten of the most harmful chemicals to be avoided.
Did you know that Europe bans approximately 1300 chemicals from their beauty products, where as the United States bans approximately 20???
Parabens is one of the most common cosmetic ingredients mainly used as preservatives in makeup products that stops bacteria, yeast, and mold from growing. This ingredient has another side to it; it can mimic estrogen (female sex hormone). Due to this, it is believed to be the cause of breast cancer in many women. Parabens easily get absorbed in the body and are detected in many breast cancer tissues. This suggests an association between parabens in cosmetics and cancer. Women are more exposed to it because of daily usage of cosmetics. Parabens are found in makeup products, body washes, deodorants, shampoos, facial cleansers and even in the food consumed such as desserts, soft drinks, frozen dairy products, sauces and processed vegetables.
Artificial colors used in cosmetics are basically synthetic colors. These are imitators of natural color that are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. They are used to make cosmetics look somewhat ‘pretty’. Before using a product it is important to look at the label to check for any FD&C or D&C label (F – food and D&C – drug and cosmetics). These labels represent synthetic colors and should not be used. They are believed to be carcinogenic, a skin irritant, and are proven to be linked to Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) mainly in children.
Cosmetic companies have been using fragrances in their products for a very long time. According to research conducted by Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database, fragrances are moderately high in terms of overall hazards and have a high chance of causing allergies and immunotoxicity. They are associated with respiratory distress and potential unwanted effects on the reproductive system. Fragrances, no doubt, enhances one’s beauty even more but, it could contain a plethora of chemicals that are hazardous to human health. Some of the common beauty products that come with fragrances are perfumes, deodorants, creams, and lotions, lip balms, and shampoos.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in numerous beauty products that can apparently increase the softness and flexibility of plastic. It has a downside to it insomuch as it can cause endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancer. It is also linked to breast cancer and early breast development in girls. Most vulnerable of the population are pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, therefore, it is best for them to completely avoid using such products. It is found in nail polish, fragranced lotions and body washes, hair care products. Unfortunately, Phthalates have been added to fragrances which make it hard to get disclosed separately as most of the consumers are unaware of this loophole. To avoid using products with phthalates, read the labels and look for ‘phthalate-free’ or ‘fragrance-free’ products.
Formaldehyde is a flammable gas used in the form of a water solution. It releases preservatives that protect cosmetics against bacteria during storage and continual usage. It is commonly found in nail polish, deodorants, makeup, soap and shampoos. It leads to skin irritation and is harmful to the immune system and a major concern is of cancer; nasal and nasopharyngeal. Cancer risk increases under high prolonged exposure to formaldehyde. Nail hardeners have the heaviest concentrations of this chemical due to which it is strongly suggested to use it in a well-ventilated room to reduce the exposure. It is not easy to identify products with no formaldehyde but, it is certainly possible to use products with fewer chemical ingredients.