By CINDY MCNATT
Here’s the thing about products you put on your hair and skin – they are absorbed into your bloodstream, inhaled in aerosols and can even transfer on doorknobs. Increasingly consumers are becoming more aware of what’s going into their bodies including the lotions, potions and pretties we apply on the surface.
Even though cosmetics makes us lovely, the ingredient list can be ugly and packed with toxins that are banned in other countries, but not ours. Don’t be fooled by healthy-sounding ingredients such as aloe, almond oils and tea tree when a host of chemicals can also be lurking on the label.
According to the Environmental Working Group, cosmetics companies are not required to report to the FDA. But the EWG believes chemical exposures overall in our environment cause everything from the reproductive problems to cancer. And there are over 10,000 chemicals used in the beauty trade.
What are the top 10 ingredients to steer clear of in cosmetics?
Parabens: All the parabens, and there are many, are used to inhibit microbial growth. Of course, refrigerating some of your cosmetics will do the same thing. OSHA requires cosmetic makers to use a respirator when working with parabens. Tested on animals.
BHA – Butylated hydroxyanisole is also used in food as a preservative and to prevent fats from becoming rancid. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists it as a carcinogen. Tested on animals.
Lathanol – Used to make bath products bubble. Becomes airborn.
Lead: Found in lipsticks and dark Grecian Formula dyes. Lead from cosmetics can be transfered to other items where babies and children can ingest it.
Diethanolamine: This includes cousins Monoethanolamine and Triethanolamine otherwise known as DEA, MEA and TEA – all used to regulate pH and also as a wetting agent in shampoo, lotions, creams and cosmetics. All are highly absorbable through the skin. These chemicals react to other chemicals in the ingredient list to create toxic outcomes. They are banned in Europe.
Phthalates: There are many. Phthalates are used as softeners, in oily perfumes, hairspray, aftershave and deodorants. According the the Centers for Disease Control, in general, the population is exposed phthalates at every turn and these can effect reproductive tract development in infant boys and can include liver, kidney, heart and lung damage. Cut back where you can.
Diazolidinyl and Imidazolidinyl Urea: Both are preservatives and frequently used as in embalming fluids – both release formaldehyde. This long list of ingredients fall into the Urea group:
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol
- 5-bromo-5-nitro-1, 3-dioxane
- Diazolidinyl urea
- DMDM Hydantoin
- Sodium hydroxymethyl
Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate/Sodium Sulfate: These are detergents that can be found in toothpaste, shampoos, bubble bath and body washes. Causes skin irritation. Mask is required for cosmetic makers.
Propylene Glycol: Same substance as antifreeze, Propylene and Ethylene Glycol is used as a solvent to mix artificial colors and fragrances, oil and water bases.
Coal Tar: Found in dark hair dyes, dandruff and psoriasis shampoos. A known carcinogen. Most at risk are hair stylist that work with it daily.