Cosmetic and personal-care products often have labels which say to beware of getting them in your eyes or they can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. These are short-term risks associated with the products and even if they do occur, will go away. However, what you don’t often see is the long-term risk associated with using these products.
It is unclear as to what may happen with long-term use of many beauty products. This is because the long-term effects of the ingredients in these products are not heavily regulated and they have not been tested thoroughly.
Even when they have been tested, the effects are not always clear. Ingredients may be found to be toxic in large quantities, but only a small amount is used in the actual product. Although the way the ingredients are used in the product may differ from how they were tested in the lab.
There is also not much information about what chemicals our bodies may be absorbing. Therefore, the safety of these products is simply unclear and we cannot say that they do not cause health problems.
Are The Cosmetics Regulated?
In the U.S., cosmetics are regulated by the FDA. However, the FDA does not require new products to be shown as safe and effective before being sold on the market. They are required to be safe, but the FDA does not have the authority to require the cosmetic companies to test their products before being sold. It is the responsibility of the cosmetic companies to test their products and ensure the safety of the ingredients.
So when you’re out shopping for beauty or personal-care products, make sure to look out for products that having warning labels that say “Warning — The safety of this product has not been determined.”
Until the ingredients in our cosmetic and personal-care products are better regulated, it’s important to look out for some of the harmful chemicals that may be in them. Some of these ingredients may cause cancer, reproductive problems, and a number of health conditions.
Harmful Ingredients To Watch For:
- BHA and BHT. Found in some makeup and moisturizers.
- DEA-regulated ingredients. Found in some moisturizers and shampoos.
- Found in a number of cosmetic products.
- Dibutyl phthalate. Found in some nail care products.
- Found in some hair care products, moisturizers, and lip care products.
- Found in some antibacterial products such as toothpaste and deodorant.
- PEG compounds. Found in some cream products.
- Found in perfume or any product with a fragrance.
- Found in some hair straightening products (i.e. keratin treatments), and other cosmetics. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.
- Sodium sulfate. Found in some shampoos and cleansers.
- Coal tar dyes. Found in some hair dyes.
Most women wear cosmetics every day. But, at the same time, most are not aware of the ingredients that are found in these products. Some of the chemicals in cosmetics have been shown to be potentially harmful. These are just some of the hazardous chemicals whose effects may go much further than skin deep.
Parabens – Parabens are typically used as preservatives. Present in many different cosmetics, parabens can interfere with the endocrine system when absorbed through the skin. Parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from tumors in the breast.
Fragrance – Unfortunately, many fragrances that are used in common personal care products are toxic. Just like parabens, many fragrances have been shown to disrupt endocrine function, potentially leading to issues in a person’s reproductive health.
1,4-dioxane – This is a contaminant that is derived from petroleum, and is often used in the manufacturing of shampoos and body wash. It is listed as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and as a reasonably anticipated carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The most dangerous part about this substance, however, is that you will never find it listed on ingredient labels.
DEA – Diethanolamine (DEA) is typically used in foaming products and creams. When absorbed through the skin, it can react, forming nitrosamines that can be carcinogenic. You should also watch out for monoethanolamine (MEA) and triethanolamine (TEA), as these compounds can be just as harmful.
Lead – It is estimated that lead is a contaminant in more than 650 beauty products, from lipstick and nail polish to toothpaste and sunscreen. Lead is a neurotoxin, causing various developmental problems.
PEG – Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is used as a thickening agent in cream-based personal products. It is also used in harsh cleansers, such as spray-on oven cleaner. PEG is very effective at dissolving oil and grease, which is why it makes a great cleanser, but it also strips your body of its natural moisture, leading to immune system vulnerability. On top of that, it has been shown to be a possible carcinogen.