Healthy living does not only involve eating and exercising but it’s also important to know what makes up the chemicals we use in everyday life. It’s not healthy to live your life in fear of what every chemical may do to you, but right mindset is that it’s better to be informed than not be informed at all and risk our health. When we are informed, we can make better, wiser, more intelligent choices not just for yourself but also for the people around you. It is important to be aware about the chemicals to avoid in makeup and skincare products because you’ll never know – you might even already have it in your vanity kit!
The sad truth is, many of the ingredients in skincare and makeup products aren’t the best for your skin and they may even be hazardous to your health. Some of these are classified as carcinogens, reproductive toxins, pesticides, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, surfactants, degreasers, and so on. These are big words but the effects of these words might even be bigger than they sound.
Here is a list of chemicals you might want to avoid in your daily makeup or skincare routine.
Parabens are very common in cosmetics, grooming products, and toiletries. They can be found in shampoos, moisturizes, conditioners, etc. This chemical is said to be associated with cancer and hormone functions. If an ingredient has the term “paraben” in it, then it falls under this category. This chemical is commonly used despite its toxic characteristic because it functions as a preservative. This is common especially in cosmetics. Parabens have been linked to breast cancer because reportedly, they have the same effect as estrogen in the body. Studies also show that the use of parabens may interfere with male reproductive functions, speeds up skin aging, and DNA damage.
There are also parabens in certain foods such as onions, carrots, vanilla, currants, strawberries, and barley, but this is the natural type and is metabolized by the body when eaten. The type used in cosmetics is the synthetic type.
DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA (Related chemicals: MEA and TEA)
These products can be found in shampoos or moisturizers and can react to cancer-causing components. They are harmful to animals such as fish. They are widely used in the beauty and wellness industry because they make cosmetics sudsy or creamy. DEA is mainly found in sunscreens and moisturizers, while cocamide and lauramide DEA are found in soaps, shampoos, and other cleansers. These chemicals can cause skin and eye irritation for some and can even lead to liver cancers and other detrimental effects to other organs if consumed in high doses.
Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP
DBP is common in nail products and hair sprays. They are toxic to the reproductive system and may interfere with hormone levels. They are also said to be harmful to fish and other animals. This chemical is used as a solvent for dyes and prevents nail polish from being brittle. Companies may hide this chemical and use the term “fragrance” instead. Because fragrance recipes are considered secrets in the beauty industry, companies are not obligated to disclose them.
This chemical is harmful because the skin can absorb it and can cause problems when it bonds with other chemicals. It has not been proven, however, that it is a mutagen on its own. Laboratory experiments showed that DBP causes developmental problems, changes in the male reproductive system, and can be an endocrine disruptor. It may also cause harm to an unborn child or even cause infertility.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
BHA and BHT can be found in makeup, moisturizers, etc. They can also cause cancer and interfere with hormone functions. They are harmful to fish and other animals. These chemicals are widely used as an ingredient in lipsticks and even in food as a preservative.
BHA and BHT can cause allergic reactions in some, and has been listed as a carcinogen. Long term exposure can also lead to problems in various organs of the human body.
Coal Tar Dyes
This can be found as colors in hair dyes and can be identified as “CI” followed by 5 digits. Look for the term P-PHENYLENEDIAMINE. Darker hair dyes tend to contain more of this than lighter colors. It has the potential to cause cancer and can be contaminated with toxic chemicals that can affect the brain. Coal tar is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum, and is known as a human carcinogen. The main problem with individual coal tar colours is that they can possibly start cancer. P-phenylenediamine has been linked to tumors in lab tests performed by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
If you see DMDM HYDANTOIN, DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA, METHENAMINE, or QUARTERNIUM-15, these fall under this category. They are commonly used in skin care and makeup products. To put it simply, formaldehyde is a cancer-causing agent. This can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled.
PEGs or Polyethylene Glycols
PEGs are commonly found in conditioners, moisturizers, deodorants, etc. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which can lead to cancer. They are petroleum-based components that are usually in cosmetics that act as thickeners, softeners, solvents, and moisture-carriers. PEGs are commonly used as bases for creams and can also be found in laxatives.
Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly (i.e. petroleum jelly is used as a barrier to lock moisture in the skin in a variety of moisturizers. It is also found in hair care products to make your hair shine. This ingredient can be contaminated with cancer-causing components. It can also cause skin irritation and allergies for some.
Siloxanes can be found in moisturizers, makeup, hair products, and others. It can damage the liver and can mess up hormones. It is also harmful to fish and other animals. This is a silicone-based ingredient that is known for its moistening, smoothing, softening properties. They make your hair silky and makes deodorants slide on easier. They can also be used in facial treatments, medical implants, lubricants, building sealants, and even windshield coatings.
Aluminum is a common component in deodorants and antiperspirant products. It is linked to Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. There is also a possible risk for breast cancer. This chemical acts as a plug in a sweat duct to stop the flow of sweat, and this leads to the toxins possibly flowing back into the bloodstream. Aluminum can also be found in drinking water, vaccinations, baking powders, feminine hygiene products, cow and soy milk, baby formula, antacids, and of course aluminum foil, pots and pans. In water aluminum is used help remove debris in water. This is the process where it bonds particles together. Unfortunately, it is a neurotoxin that also binds and sticks to our red and white blood cells and hormones that can lead to microvascular strokes which cause many other serious problems.
Heavy Metals: Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic, Nickel and More
Heavy metals can accumulate in the body over time. They are known to cause health problems, which can include: reproductive and developmental disorders, cancer, neurological problems; memory loss; mood swings; nerve, joint and muscle disorders; cardiovascular, blood, skeletal, immune system, kidney and renal problems; headaches; vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea; lung damage; contact dermatitis; and brittle hair and hair loss. Many are also considered to disrupt hormones and act as respiratory toxins. For some like lead, there is no known level safe for human blood.
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