Womens Health

Chemicals to Avoid in Makeup

While cosmetics can enhance a woman’s physical appearance, makeup can also bring with it potentially dangerous health risks. In fact, chemicals in makeup have been linked to cancer, immune dysfunction and depression, among other illnesses. If you are worried about the effects that these chemicals could be having on your skin and your health, our chemicals to avoid in makeup guide will provide you with a detailed list of chemicals to watch out for the next time you’re in the beauty aisle. Read on and discover the chemicals that may be lurking in your favorite cosmetics.


Makeup Unmasked: Five Chemicals to Avoid in Cosmetic Products

Phthatale Family: Also known as di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ehtylexyl) phthatale (DEHP). Use: these chemicals are used to make plastics supple and pliable and are found in nail polish, body lotions, hair-straighteners and sprays. Risks: phthatales are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) as well as carcinogens which have been linked to a variety of problems such as damage to the reproductive organs, premature breast development, lung, liver and kidney cancer. They have also been linked to lowered sperm counts and testicular injury.

Lauryl Sulfate:Also known as SLS and Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Use:a foaming agent and emulsifier, this chemical is derived from petroleum and is usually deceptively described as being extracted from coconuts. These chemicals are found in shampoo, body and shower gels, bath salts and toothpaste. Risks: lauryl sulfate is believed to be a carcinogen which has been linked to kidney and liver damage. Other health risks associated with this chemical include nervous-system disruption, eczema, dermatitis as well as skin inflammation. It can also cause eye damage, notably cataracts.

Amine Family: This chemical family includes Diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA) and monoethanolamine (MEA).Use: these ammonia compounds (amines) function as a preservative, emulsifier, pH adjuster and foaming agent added to coconut oils. They are used in face powders, shaving creams, hair-coloring products for both men and women as well as hair sprays. Amines are also used in soaps, sunscreens, foundations, concealers, eyeliners, talcs and face powders. Risks: amines can form cancer-causing nitrosamines when they come upon contact with nitrates and are toxic when absorbed on a long-term basis. These chemicals found in common cosmetics have been linked to kidney and liver cancer. They are also irritants to the hair and skin and damaging to the eyes. They also cause contact dermatitis.

Formaldehyde: Also known as Diazolidinyl urea, 3-diol Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium-15, Nitroopropane-1, Formalin, Methanal, Methyl aldehyde, Methylene oxide, Morbicic acid, Oxymethlylene. Use: functions as a preservative, defoamer, germicide, fungicide, disinfectant due to its inexpensive nature and the fact that it mixes easily with water. Chemicals found in this family are used in a variety of makeup products and other personal care products, including shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, nail polish, mascara, mouthwash, makeup remover, bubble bath, hair-care products, anti-perspirants and talcs.Risks: chemicals of the formaldehyde family are carcinogens which can cause depression, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and immune dysfunction. They also cause allergic reactions, contact dermatitis and irritate mucous membranes. Formaldehyde can also lead to joint and chest pain.

Paraben Preservatives: Also known as alkyl-p-hydroxybenzoates (methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl. Use: parabens are found in nail creams, foundations, concealers, mascara, facial masks, deodorants, sunscreen, hair-coloring products and conditioners. They function as a germicide and preservative.Risks: parabens can disrupt hormones, namely estrogen, which can lead to cancer. They have also been linked to breast cancer. Parabens also cause skin rashes.

Avoid Chemicals

In order to avoid these chemicals in makeup, carefully read product labels and consider purchasing your makeup products at natural health stores that sell organic lines.

Other ingredients to avoid in cosmetics include synthetic fragrances and synthetic colors, many of which contain carcinogenic properties. In addition, while there is concern regarding the inclusion of lead in many lipsticks and lipglosses, it is illegal for cosmetic companies to add lead to makeup products and no cosmetic may contain more than trace amounts of lead.

However, if you are concerned with lead content that may be found in cosmetic products- particularly in long lasting lipsticks, lipglosses and lip liners- perform a lead test by applying the product directly onto the skin of your hand, and then rub the area with gold jewelery such as a ring. If the product turns black, this indicates lead content.


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