Chemicals in Beauty Products
The beauty industry has many ugly secrets, and one of them is that there are often harmful chemicals in beauty products. When it comes to cosmetics, no authority regulates what “organic” or “natural” means, and while your makeup, face cream, cleanser or skin moisturizer may deliver on their short term promises, the long term effects may be something we should be paying more attention to. In other words, the cosmetics you use may actually speed up the formation of wrinkles, age spots, or worse, it may disrupt your hormones, compromise your fertility, expose you to cancer-causing agents, or deliver dangerous toxins that penetrate and age your skin.
Researchers have found that 1 out of 8 ingredients used in cosmetics is also an industrial chemical, some of which keep concrete soft, remove grease from auto parts or act as surfactants, paints or inks, and many of these industrial chemicals have in fact been banned in many countries.
Watch Out For These Ingredients
To protect your skin and keep it looking youthful, avoid these chemicals in beauty products.
Also called perfume, some fragrances have been linked to asthma, breathing difficulties and allergic reactions, while others have links to cancers. These terms indicate a mixture of ingredients that cosmetic companies are not legally required to disclose, and some unscented products contain fragrances with masking agents.
A common ingredient in fragrances, these dangerous chemicals have also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Phthalates also block testosterone and damage a man’s reproductive system.
Used to lighten skin, BHA and BHT are considered a possible carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. In studies, animals exposed to these chemicals developed stomach cancer and liver damage, and developed problems with their thyroid and reproductive organs. Banned in Europe.
- Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen which interferes with growth and development in children, harms the brain and induces asthma. The preservatives DMDM Hydantoin (very common), diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and quaternium-15 slowly release formaldehyde to keep the skin care product from spoiling, often triggering allergic reactions on the skin. If you’ve ever experienced an allergic reaction after using a skin lotion, it probably contained one of these ingredients.
- Sodium Borate / Boric Acid
These chemicals interfere with hormones and cause low sperm count and infertility in men. It absorbs easily through the skin and is used in diaper creams. Banned in Europe and Canada, and the cosmetic industry states it’s unsafe for infants.
Mercury is used in some cosmetics to lighten the skin. The culprits are products containing mercury, calomel, mercurio or mercurio chloride. It is easily absorbed through your skin and with enough use can develop into mercury poisoning.
- Coal Tar
Coal tar is still used in hair dyes and anti-dandruff shampoos. It’s a recognized as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. On ingredient lists, it goes by the names aminophenol, diaminobenzene, and phenylenediamine.
- PEG Compounds
These petroleum-based compounds go by names such as Propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, or polyoxyethylene, but they go by other names too – ingredients list words containing “-eth” or “-oxynol” are likely one of these PEGs, which can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen.
A skin lightener and known cause of a skin disease called ochronosis that features black and blue lesions that can become permanent. In animals, studies have found that sustained exposure can lead to tumour development.
Sunscreens use oxybenzone to absorb UV light, and in humans this chemical can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Animal studies report that it acts as an endocrine disruptor and interferes with hormone activity.
Many antibacterial hand soaps, hand sanitizers, deodorants, skin cleansers, and toothpaste contain this chemical agent, another endocrine disruptor that harms your thyroid and reproductive hormones.
Many products are now marketed as paraben-free, as these chemicals mimic estrogen and lead to hormone imbalance. Reports by the Centre for Disease Control in the US suggest their presence in every American’s body. Avoid products with parabens to prevent reproductive problems like infertility or slowed growth and developmental disorders in children.
- Siloxanes and Methicones
These substances are used to soften and smooth skin, and they are also known to disrupt the hormone balance and interfere with fertility and libido.
- Sodium Lauryl (Laureth) Sulphate
This chemical is often found in shampoos, soaps, and cleansers. It may also contain 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen, and ethylene oxide, a chemical known to harm your nervous system.
Used in nail polish and in paint thinners, research suggests that it interferes with the human immune system and may be tied to the development of malignant lymphoma.
- Retinol, or Retinyl Palmitate/Acetate
These vitamin A compounds are broken down by sunlight to create free radicals that increase the risk of skin cancers. Avoid all skin and lip products with any of these vitamin A chemicals.
Natural Skin Care
Although the cosmetic industry is largely unregulated, you can take steps to protect, heal and restore your skin. Many natural products include olive oil, coffee berry, and green tea that can treat and prevent premature aging of your skin from UV exposure. Don’t buy or use any cosmetic product, cream, sunscreen, ointment, or lotion that has any of the ingredients listed above. This may take a little time, but go online and research products that have ingredient lists that support their marketing.