According to research, the average female uses 12 beauty products on a daily basis. Recent studies have shown that ingredients found in the everyday use of cosmetic products may have the potential to cause multiple health concerns including allergies, dermatitis, hormonal disruption, as well as in some cases, through prolonged use, permeating carcinogens through our skin into our bloodstream potentially leading to cancer. It is now an established fact – chemical exposure on a regular basis can be extremely dangerous for our health and can potentially lead to many chronic diseases including cancer.
So how are we to identify and avoid their use? On an initial practical perspective, stopping the immediate use of these products would seem unrealistic as it would be impossible to comprehend the very thought of life without products like soap, shampoo, shaving scream, make-up, antiperspirant and everything else in the bathroom cabinet.
The answer however is simple: ideally to switch to natural beauty products anything natural is always better than anything synthetic, right? But even before going all out natural, starting, at the very minimum to get yourself clued up and informed about these chemicals that cosmetics may contain giving you the ability to make a safer choice when shopping is a sensible start.
So here are the 10 most dangerous ingredients in beauty products for you to avoid:
Who didn’t hear about parabens? They’ve become so popular in recent years that many cosmetic brands are using the term in their promotion campaigns with claims on their labels like “paraben free”. So what’s the big deal about parabens? Are they really that dangerous? Well the reality is that parabens are a well-known ‘preservative’ in cosmetics industry. They are widely used in face creams, shampoo, body lotions, deodorants & more. It is actually estimated that up to 90% cosmetic products contain them. Many are unaware that they’ve been listed by The European Commission of Endocrine Disruption http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/endocrine/ as Category 1 Priority substances based on the fact that parabens copy the behaviour of oestrogen in our bodies, which has been scientifically proven to potentially cause hormonal disruption which can lead to many health issues including cancer.
Phthalates are the chemicals often found in nail products as well as being used as a “fragrance” ingredient in many other cosmetic products. Based on the fact that fragrance recipes are considered to be “trade secrets” thus what the composition of the ‘fragrance’ is never listed on the label. This is another chemical that is classified by The European Union as suspected endocrine disruptor which potentially can affect the reproduction and fertility systems as well as cause harm to an unborn child. It has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- BHA and BHT (butylatedhydroxyanisole and butylatedhydroxytoluene)
BHA and BHT are often used in make-up, especially lipstick and moisturizers as preservatives. They have been classified as possible carcinogens by The International Agency for Research on Cancer as well as being listed as Category 1 substance by The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption based on the suggestion that they actively interfere with hormonal disruption. They have additionally been prohibited by European Union for use as a fragrance ingredient within any cosmetics.
Often found within antibacterial products such as toothpaste, antibacterial soap, hand sanitizers, cleansers, deodorants and antiperspirants, it is considered to be a skin irritant and a hormone disruptor that effects the reproductive system. There are also suggestions that it contributes towards the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria as well as being harmful to our immune system.
- Synthetic colours
If you see the following written on the label “FD&C Blue No. 1”, or any other with FD&C – note that these are synthetic colours derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. They are mainly used in dark hair dyes and some make up products. They are considered to be carcinogens & both The European Classification on Labelling and The European Union have banned them. Moreover, they are often contaminated with heavy metals that are toxic for humans.
“Fragrance” or “Perfume” is an extremely vague category, many are unaware however that the use of up to 3000 ingredients are permitted to make the ‘fragrance’, many which are clearly hazardous. It is obvious that most perfumes, colognes and deodorants contain a fragrance of some sort, but the harsh reality is that this so called batch of ingredients conveniently named as ‘fragrance’ is to be found in almost every kind of personal care product such as shampoo, body wash, conditioner, soap,moisturizer and so on. Most of the ingredients used within these this category can cause migraines, allergies and other health related issues. There is also a suggestion that regular exposure of children to perfume can develop symptoms of asthma or exacerbate it. In addition, according to research, these ‘fragrance ingredients’ are more often linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laurethsulfate (SLES)
This ingredient can be found in almost 90 % of personal care products such as shampoo, liquid soap, and shower gel and so on, as it assists with the foam and bubbly texture people enjoy. Research shows that this ingredient can be an irritant for the skin, lungs and eyes. It is a possible human carcinogen and toxicant and can potentially lead to kidney and respiratory damage.
If you look at the label and find any of the following ingredients: DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15, and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, put this product back on shelf, as these are formaldehyde-releasing agents. They are used in large variety of cosmetic products despite of the fact they have been classified a human carcinogen by International Agency for Research on Cancer. They can be found in nail polish and nail polish treatment, shampoo, conditioners, body wash and eye shadow.
- Mineral oil (petroleum)
Derived from petroleum this ingredient is perhaps the most dangerous when poorly refined and worryingly is often used in baby oil, body lotion, moisturizers, soap and some make up products. It can block pores, effect the skin’s ability to fight toxins as well as lead to acne and premature aging. It can be contaminated with ‘PAH’ which is a known carcinogen.
These are often used in moisturizers, facial treatment and hair products to help soften, smooth and moisten cosmetics. They are considered to be toxic and known to interfere negatively with human hormones as well as potentially affect reproductive function in addition to the immune system. Regular exposure to siloxanes have been known to cause uterine tumours and effect the nervous system.