There’s a good chance that the hair care, cosmetics, and skin care products you use to feel good inside and out are loaded with toxic chemicals. Although many of the chemicals and contaminants in cosmetics and personal care products likely pose little risk, exposure to some has been linked to serious health problems, including cancer.
According to recent scientific research, since 1995, over 595 cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 88 chemicals in more than 73,000 products that have been linked to cancer, congenital disabilities, or reproductive harm. Many of these chemicals should be banned from cosmetics, as proposed in California Assembly Bill 2762, the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act.
Sensitivities, Allergies and Cancers
Among the toxic chemicals that should be banned is Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, Paraformaldehyde, a type of Formaldehyde, Mercury, which can damage the kidneys and nervous system. Others are Dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates, which disrupt hormones and damage the reproductive system, Isobutyl and isopropyl parabens, which disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system and the long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer.
The skin is the largest organ of our body, and it absorbs 60-100 percent of everything we apply to it in less than thirty seconds. So, the toxins it absorbs can result in sensitivities, allergies, cancers, and various other medical issues. When looking at cosmetics, which expose us to toxins every day, it becomes clear why it’s essential to go clean!
So, what exactly does ‘clean’ imply? Any cosmetic or beauty product which is formulated without any toxic ingredients comes under the clean beauty category. It doesn’t have to be handcrafted to qualify as non-toxic. As long as it is mindfully made, leaving out the harsh chemicals, it is clean and safe to use.
Switching to clean toxin-free cosmetics is not only good for your well-being but also for your fellow human beings, animals, and the environment. If you’re making the switch, here are five toxic ingredients you need to look out for a while buying cosmetics:
Sulphate is the ingredient that creates the foaming effect of shampoos, shower gels, facial cleansing gels, etc. While they leave a squeaky-clean sensation, they are the culprit behind dryness and irritation. Sulphates remove the hydrolipidic film naturally present on the skin and scalp. The two most common forms of sulfate present in cosmetics are SLS and SLES, which irritate eyes, skin, and even lungs with regular use. SLES is contaminated with a substance called 1,4-dioxane, which is a carcinogen. Moreover, products containing sulfates are not environment friendly and often tested on animals to measure people’s irritation.
Triclosan is used as an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal agent, preservative, and antiperspirant. It has been linked to disrupted hormonal development, reduced bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and an increase in allergies. The FDA has banned this ingredient in soaps. However, it can be found in other products such as deodorant, toothpaste, hand sanitizers, face wash, etc. With several brands using triclosan in their products, it has also emerged in the environment, contaminating waterways, rivers, oceans and posing a threat to fish and other aquatic animals.
Petrochemicals do not provide any tangible benefits to the skin. A group of substances derived chemically from petroleum simply forms a barrier-like coating on the skin, clogging pores and making them resistant to air and water. Petrochemicals often contain phthalates, phenoxy-ethanol, and aluminum, all of which appear to make the skin smooth but, in reality, trapping sebum, dead skin cells, and other bacteria on the pores, resulting in breakouts. Phthalates and other petrochemicals can commonly be found in most cosmetics that we use on our faces. It is essential to read the labels on the products carefully to identify if it contains harmful ingredients.
PEG stands for polyethylene glycol, which is a group of compounds bonded together. It can be found in cosmetics with a thick, creamy, and sticky texture. When glycol is combined with polyethylene, it becomes a viscous liquid, the most common plastic form. PEGs contain contaminants such as ethylene oxide and 1.4-dioxane. While 1.4- dioxane is a proven carcinogen, exposure to ethylene oxide can severely damage the nervous system. It was used as a nerve gas in World War II. Not something anyone wants to put on their skin, right?
Parabens are preservatives, which are widely used in cosmetic products. Parabens mimic estrogen, resulting in abnormal levels of estrogen in the body. It leads to hormonal imbalance and possibly breast cancer. A study conducted in 2011 found that breast tissue samples collected contained at least one paraben. So, it’s best to avoid parabens, especially propylparaben and isobutylparaben, at all costs.
You can start your journey of living a conscious and ethical lifestyle by discontinuing the use of products containing these toxic ingredients. With the plethora of beautifully packaged and cleverly marketed products containing numerous ingredients, both in stores and online, carefully picking out clean, toxin-free products for yourself can be challenging, but it’s worth it.
Of more than 10,000 chemicals used to formulate cosmetics, just 11 have ever been banned or restricted by the federal Food and Drug Administration. By contrast, the FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have broad authority to ensure the safety of chemicals in other consumer products.
1,400 Chemicals or Contaminants
For example, the FDA can review chemicals in prescription and over-the-counter drugs and chemicals found in food. The EPA has the power to review chemicals in pesticides used in homes and on farms and set limits for pesticide residues on food. In 2016, Congress expanded EPA authority to review chemicals in cleaners, paints, solvents, and many other consumer products.
The U.S. has also fallen far behind our international trading partners in the regulation of cosmetics. More than 40 nations have taken steps to ban or restrict, in combination, more than 1,400 chemicals or contaminants in cosmetics and personal care products, including chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and neurological harm.