Dangerous Ingredients to Watch Out For in Cosmetics
manufacturing and selling of cosmetics is a multi-billion dollar
industry. Although cosmetics manufacturing has improved greatly over
time and fewer toxic compounds are utilized, many products still contain
lead, mercury, and other hazardous chemicals. The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) does not fully regulate safety of either U.S.- or
foreign-made cosmetic products. This slideshow covers a few chemicals
that you should look out for in your cosmetics
is a highly toxic metal associated with neurological and organ
toxicity. It also can play a role in cancer development. Lead poisoning
is exceptionally dangerous for children. Although the FDA has
requirements with regards to lead in certain dyes, it does not have
stringent regulations on lead found in other cosmetics, such as
lipstick. Imported cosmetics may also have high lead content. For
safety, keep all cosmetics away from children
FDA regulates the use of mercury compounds for use as a preservative in
eye shadow and other eye makeup. Certain skin-whitening creams may also
be contaminated with mercury. Mercury is a very toxic element that can
be absorbed through the skin, which in turn can cause damage to the
brain. There is some controversial scientific evidence that links
mercury exposure to autism in children
is a compound commonly found in anti-bacterial products such as soap,
lotions, and toothpaste. Triclosan overuse in society is thought to be
one cause of the increased rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Triclosan is considered safe for humans, but the FDA is presently
reviewing animal research that supports potentially harmful effects of
triclosan, including altering hormone levels in the body, potentially
affecting reproduction, child development, and cancer.
is a known carcinogen that occurs naturally at low levels, but is
commonly used as embalming fluid to preserve bodies after death. Higher
levels of this compound can be irritating to the skin and exacerbate
asthma. Formaldehyde is also found in certain cosmetics, particularly
nail-hardeners. Use products with formaldehyde in a well-ventilated
room, and keep them away from children
levels of 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of chemical manufacturing, are found
in many cosmetics. 1,4-dioxane induces cancer in rats, and
exceptionally high levels may cause organ damage in humans. The FDA
assures the level of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics poses no harm to humans,
but the actual health effects of 1,4-dioxane are not fully understood.
Avoiding products with these ingredients: PEG, polyethylene,
polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene, and
polyoxynolethylene. They may reduce your 1,4-dioxane exposure.
in anti-dandruff shampoos, hair dyes, and treatments for psoriasis,
coal tar is a known human carcinogen. By causing DNA damage, exposure to
coal tar can increase the likelihood of cancer development. Coal tar
can also increase the sensitivity of your skin to sunlight, increasing
your susceptibility to sunburns, and potentially increase your chance
for contracting skin cancer. Products with coal tar should be used
cautiously or avoided all together.
(DEA) is a compound often used in shampoos, lotions, and other
cosmetics as an emulsifier and a foaming agent. There is some fear that
DEA is a carcinognen. Although animal studies from the US Department of
Human Health services did show that DEA could induce tumors, the
overall results were actually inconclusive. DEA is not considered a
human carcinogen, but it still perhaps should be used cautiously
(DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), and diethylphthalate (DEP) belong to a
class of chemicals known as phthalates: common cosmetic additives found
in hairspray, nail polish, soap, shampoo, and perfume. According to the
FDA, phthalate exposure from cosmetics is safe for humans, but others
feel exposure may cause health risks, including potential harm to an
unborn child. Cosmetic products must declare all ingredients on their
packaging, except for perfumes, which may contain phthalate.
How to Avoid Using Cosmetics with Dangerous Chemicals?
cosmetics with unsafe compounds is difficult because cosmetic companies
are not required to ensure a product is safe. Furthermore, most
scientific studies are based on worst-case scenarios and certain
“dangerous” compounds may not greatly affect your health if used as
directed. The best advice is to do your research and purchase cosmetics
from a reputable company that you trust.
You can learn more
about dangerous chemicals in cosmetics at the The Center of Disease
Control, Food And Drug Administration, and ToxNet.