Are you a make-up freak? Do you have make-up hauls every other day? Most women enjoy using cosmetics and beauty accessories. We do our own hauls, you tube make-up reviews and enjoy all the attention. but how many of us spend time researching the make-up products we buy?

When we buy a nail polish or an eye liner we hardly think beyond the packet and the manufacturer’s words shimmering on it. We don’t think about the ingredients and how they are going to affect our health. And we hardly are chemists or health experts to read and understand those lengthy complex words.

We don’t even bother about the ‘expiry date’ when it comes to cosmetics. We try to use a lipstick until it is completely worn out, we puff the powders until they are flaky and odourless, we paint our nails until the nail polish thickens and we line our eyes until the bottle accidentally falls and breaks. We are quite ignorant about the bacteria that may breed on our mascara brushes or about the expired chemicals in our lipsticks.

Do we realise that many ingredients in our daily use cosmetics do contain toxins and carcinogens in them? If some chemicals and compounds can cause cancer some others can lead to hormonal disruption. Cosmetics may even contain toxins which affect our nerve cells and organs and bring chaos to our health, reproductive disabilities and destroy the environment we live in. The contaminants are not restricted to cosmetics alone. They are present in hair care products including shampoos and conditioners, skin care products etc.

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) regulates cosmetic products but there are no restrictions on the use of ingredients in them. Unfortunately, cosmetics do not have to go through any safety tests or reviews before they are introduced in to the market.

What are the things you should look for in your favourite products?

  • DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate)- is a significant presence in many top branded nail polishes, top coats, and hardeners. It is an additive even in hair care products. But DBP is a toxic substance under environmental law which is liberally used in cosmetics. Funny enough! Well, that was just a beginning. The ingredients also include toluene and formaldehyde which are harmful even in low levels. Look for phthalates in your personal care products like dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, and dimethyl phthalate. Phthalates have to be kept away from pregnant ladies, nursing mothers and those who plan to conceive. Choose toxin-free nail colors and cosmetics!
  • Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) also makes a presence in our beauty-aiding agents and perfumes. It is important to know that both DEHP and DBP are prohibited in the cosmetics of European nations.
  • Lead- Red rosy lips are attractive and eye-catchy. Looking beautiful and charming boosts your confidence too. But did you know that many of your lipsticks contain fatal amounts of lead?  Read it here. Your exposure to lead caused by the application and unconscious consumption of lipstick several times a day is extremely harmful. In children, lead can lead to reduced cognitive function and aggression. Avoid regular use of lipstick or find a lead-free brand.
  • Many ingredient-chemicals in cosmetics are permeable through our largest organ, the skin. Long periods of exposure to these lead to genetic damage, biological mutations and cancer in the longer run. Cosmetic preservative butylate hydroxytoluene (BHT) and the carcinogenic pesticide DDT (look for lanolin in your product) are skin permeable. Many top brands have lanolin. Lanolin in itself is harmless. But sometimes, it can be contaminated with DDT through the DDT treated food of the sheep, from whose wool lanolin is taken.
  • Our daily cleaning supplies, laundry agents, toothpastes and mouth washes may also contain lethal toxins (for example, ammonia and trisodium nitrilotriacetate). Some of these are mere allergens triggering an irritation but some may contribute to birth defects, cancer and mental disabilities.  And it is through our air and skin that we consume more than 90% of these toxins.

It is sad that many of us do not think of relating our allergies or discomforts to our use of cosmetics. And the chemicals take their toll.Let’s see what we can do about it.

  • Also, avoid bacterial contamination of products. Use make-up applicators instead of your fingers.
  • Discard eyeliners and eye products within a year or as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Look on the product for the symbol of an open bottle for expiry date.
  • Lip products have to be thrown after 2 years of use or whenever you notice a change in the smell or feel.
  • Do not paint your nails on to the cuticles. Nail polish is just for the nail and not for the skin around.
  • Try not to go for the cheap brands. If you do, it is necessary to be sure of their ingredients for your own safety and well being.
  • Always keep your products capped airtight.
  • Mascara brushes may need sterilisation once in a while.
  • Additionally, health experts warn cosmetic users and salon-goers about using well-ventilated rooms in salons and at home. The salon products may not be always reliable and safe even for breathing in. Hence it is safer to visit spacious and well ventilated salons. Even our house needs to have a fresh rush of air when we do our pedicure or manicures to get rid of the toxins. Women who spent more time at home than those who went out for work have a higher mortality rate from cancer. The former keep inhaling the contaminants inside, which have no way to get out.

The European Union has come up with CosIng for the safety of cosmetic consumers. Many top brands are slowly joining the The Cosmetics Directive by removing a variety of toxins from their products.

There is nothing much we can do about it if there is no rule to regulate the contents of cosmetics. We can fight for cosmetic manufacturer to replace their toxic chemical ingredients with safer substitutes or buy only organic and herbal products or stop using cosmetics at all!

Additional Reading:

Prohibited & Restricted Ingredients

Want Younger Skin? Junk the Cosmetics, Just Exercise!

All Natural Products For Radiant Skin