How much do you know about your everyday cosmetics? You might say, “It suits my skin, and it’s quite expensive but stays fresh the whole day”, and yes, “I love the colours!“ But what do you really know about the ingredients?
The cosmetics debate is nothing new, and you can find those who defend the industry that the ingredients are not dangerous as they can be found in very small quantities. However, the amount multiplies when many of us use four, five or six body products every day! So, if you count all the chemicals in every product, maybe taking more interest in what we use on our bodies will allow us to make more informed decisions.
If you spot the following ingredients on your bottle, then it’s time to know about them!
Known as: phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance.
Used in: perfume, eye shadow, moisturiser, nail polish, liquid soap, and hair spray.
Concern: can damage male fertility, such as semen quality with decreased levels of volume and mobility. Can also cause endocrine disruption, given the chemicals that interfere with the hormonal system. Can lead to certain types of cancers and developmental issues.
Known as: Commonly used as a water solution called formalin.
Used in: nail polish and glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash, colour cosmetics (eye shadow, blush, lipstick, etc).
Concern: skin irritation for those who are highly sensitive to the substance, and according to the National Toxicology Program in the US, there are concerns over cancer for those with prolonged exposure, such as salon workers.
Known as: paraben and all other ingredients ending in paraben, for example methylparaben.
Used in: shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers and scrubs.
Concern: Parabens have been found to penetrate skin and remain within the tissue and are linked to breasts cancer, developmental and reproductive issues.
Known as: Triclosan (TSC) and triclocarban (TCC)
Used in: antibacterial soaps, toothpaste and tooth whitening products, antiperspirants/deodorants, shaving products, creams, colour cosmetics.
Concern: There is evidence to show triclosane interferes with hormonal development, and studies have found concentrations of triclosane in 3 out of 5 human milk samples. Researchers have also linked it to reproductive abnormalities in laboratory animals.
Known as: fragrance, perfume, essential oil blend, aroma.
Used in: sunscreen, shampoo, soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup, facial cream, skin toner, serums, exfoliating scrubs and perfume.
Concern: Approximately 3100 stock chemicals are used in fragrance, with 95% of synthetic versions made from petroleum, dozens of which are linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.
Known as: PABA, Para-aminobenzoic acid.
Used in: sunscreens (as a UVB filter).
Concern: Studies have shown high levels have links to skin irritation and thyroid disruption.
Known as: petrolatum, petroleum jelly, paraffin oil, mineral oil.
Used in: lotions, cosmetics.
Concern: The use of petroleum jelly can cause skin irritation, while a study by the University of California showed that 40% of women who use petroleum jelly as a vaginal lubricant tested positive for yeast and bacterial infections.
Known as: talcum powder, talc.
Used in: baby powder, body and shower products, lotions, feminine hygiene products, eyeshadow, foundation, lipstick, deodorants and face masks.
Concern: The International Agency for Research on Cancer has found that talc is possibly carcinogenic.
When used in the pelvic area on women, talc has been found to enter the body and reach distant organs and has been found in ovaries and pelvic lymph nodes.
Known as: titanium dioxide, TiO2
Used in: sunscreen, powders.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer designates TiO2 as a carcinogen, largely due to studies that have found increased lung cancers due to inhalation exposure in animals.
When choosing your cosmetic products, purchase those with fewer ingredients or switch to completely natural skincare and cosmetics when possible. That way, you are exposed to fewer chemicals overall, with products less likely to contain synthetic versions of natural ingredients.