Thursday, March 5, 2015


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You apply it to your face, lips and eyes - but what’s really in your beauty products?

With up to 60 per cent of what you put on your face being absorbed by your body, it’s no wonder we should be more concerned about what ingredients are in our products. Here are five to look out for - and avoid.

1. Phthalates
These are chemicals often used by manufacturers to dissolve other ingredients so that they are more consistent. An example would be to make nail polish less brittle. However, they carry some dangers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put phthalates on their list of chemicals that could possibly be risky to human health or the environment. Research has found that exposure to phthalates has been linked to poor sperm quality and infertility; and that phthalates disturb reproductive functioning by lowering levels of sex hormones. These are important for the proper development and functioning of the sex organs. Always read the labels on your personal hygiene and makeup products to ensure they are phthalate-free. Also watch out for fragranced products as these usually contain phthalates without them being mentioned on the ingredients list.

2. Parabens
Parabens are essentially preservatives that prevent bacteria from forming in your cosmetics products. However, much like phthalates, they are endocrine disrupters. There has been a link between parabens and breast cancer: a 2002 study published in the Natural Medicine Journal found that parabens mimic oestrogen at the necessary strength to cause breast cancer cells to grow. Parabens are found in many products: out of 185 products that were tested in a study, 109 contained parabens! When shopping for cosmetics, make sure you look out for the various types of parabens. Some common ones are listed as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. The best products to choose are those listed as 'paraben-free.'


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3. Lead
Lead is a toxic ingredient often found in lipstick. In a study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it was discovered that 400 of the most popular lipstick brands available contained traces of lead. The danger of metals such as lead is that they accumulate in the body and they are easily absorbed from lipstick after lip-licking, drinking or eating. Lead is a neurotoxin, preventing the proper functioning of neuron cells. Neurotoxins can cause a variety of health problems, from dizziness and nausea to motor control difficulties, paralysis and even death. Lead is often found in higher quantities in lipsticks with darker, richer pigments (think dark brown or bright red tones) and ones that contain shimmer.

4. Imidazolidinyl Urea
This is one of the many ingredients that release a chemical known as formaldehyde, a toxin classified as a carcinogen when people are exposed to it in high quantities and for long periods of time. Imidazolidinyl Urea is found in many cosmetics, such as face powder, eye shadow and eyeliner. When exposed to formaldehyde-releasing chemicals, people can suffer reactions either to the chemical or formaldehyde itself. Various other health problems can arise, such as ear infections, joint pain, insomnia, asthma, fatigue, chest pain and headaches. Just because there is not a lot of formaldehyde in cosmetics, it doesn’t mean that it cannot lead to reactions - short-term use could cause dermatitis or allergic responses in the body - so it is best avoided across the board.

5. Talc
You might not think of talc (known as hydrous magnesium silicate) as something dangerous, but it shouldn’t be in your cosmetics. It is often found in products such as eye shadow, face powder and other loose mineral products. The reason why talc is a harmful ingredient is that it’s similar to asbestos and can be tainted with asbestos particles, which can lead to cancer and respiratory problems. However, the National Toxicology Panel has conducted studies that found even talc which is free of any asbestos in cosmetics can still be carcinogenic and toxic to human health.

By knowing what makeup ingredients to avoid, you can ensure that what you’re putting on your face won’t harm your body. It’s also a good idea to start making the shift towards organic products that give a miss to all the toxins, making you beautiful on the inside and out!

Written by Cassie Brewer
Follow her on twitter here.

Thanks for reading!