How safe is your cosmetics?

Take  a moment to stop and think about your daily beauty regime. The lipstick you put on this morning, the moisturizer you use at night, the hairspray you use to style your hair, even the sunscreen that’s suppose to protect your skin. Have you ever thought for a second that the beauty products you slap on your skin can cause adverse effects? It is estimated that the average woman uses up to 12 personal care products per day, resulting in exposure to more than 120 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, allergies, and other health related issues. These beauty products often contain hidden carcinogens that are not listed on labels, such as formaldehyde and 1,4-Dioxane. What’s even scarier is that these chemical can be found in children’s bath products.

When walking down the beauty isle, most people tend to look for words such as “all-natural” and “sulfate free” plastered on the packaging. We blindly trust that these products are safer to use. But what do they actually mean? This is a lot more complex than just black and white.

For example, parabens are a group of substances that are used as preservatives in cosmetics. The EU banned five different parabens, but several of the most commonly used parabens have been deemed safe.  So while a product saying “paraben free” might make you feel more comfortable, another product containing parabens might not actually be unsafe.  In fact, according to former cosmetic formulator, Perry Romanowski, parabens can actually make a product safer.

Certain alcohols, such as isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol, methyl alcohol or methanol, butyl alcohol or butanol, ethyl alcohol or ethanol, should definitely be avoided. A general rule to follow is to avoid chemicals ending in ‘anol’.

In addition to certain alcohols, sulfates, the ingredients in shampoo that causes it to lather, should be avoided. They are particularly controversial. Studies show that ingredients such as sodium laureth sulphate, oleth, and myreth, all test positive for 1,4-Dioxane, a proven cancer-causing petrochemical. When shopping, try to avoid sulfates that end in ‘eth’.

While the chemicals in cosmetics make us look, feel and smell better, these chemicals are considered hormone disruptors. Hormone disruptors can affect how estrogen and other hormones act in the body, by blocking them or mimicking them, which throws off the body’s hormonal balance. Next time you are making a trip to your local beauty store, do some research on the ingredients listed on the products and try your best to avoid the chemical/alcohol listed in this article.

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photo credit: Female Fatal

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