The romance between women and cosmetics has lasted for centuries. No wonder – there’s nothing like a new lipstick or perfume to make us look good and feel good. Or at least, so we thought…
Women use more and more cosmetics; they are more conscious of their body image than ever, and the beauty ritual has changed over the years from a simple bath to daily applications of manicure, false eyelashes, hair extensions and so on. Although small quantities of chemicals used in individual products probably can’t harm us, there is a growing concern for the number of cosmetics used by women daily and the cumulative effect of chemicals over several years.
In fact, according to a new study, most of our favorite cosmetics are cocktails of chemicals and hazardous industrial products that can put our health to jeopardy. Moreover, in some cases they accelerate the aging process rather than rejuvenate us. The research has found that beauty care products and makeup used by most women may host several of 515 different synthetic chemicals. Many of these substances are used in other products such as household detergents and cleaning agents, and they have been linked to a number of health problems from allergies and skin sensitivity to severe hormonal disorders, fertility problems and even cancer.
Chemicals found in cosmetics
– Shampoo contains an average of 15 chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, tetrasodium and propylene glycol. Possible side effects: irritation, eye problems;
– Eye shadow contains an average of 26 chemicals, of which the most worrying is polyethylene terephthalate. Possible side effects: risk of cancer, infertility, hormonal disorders and body organs;
– Blush contains about 16 chemicals, including ethylparaben, methylparaben and propylparabens. Possible side effects: rash, irritation, hormonal disorders;
– Hair mousse contains 11 chemicals on average, out of which octinoxate and isophthalic are the most dangerous. Possible side effects: allergies, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, hormonal disorders, changes in cell structure;
– Foundation contains an average of 24 chemicals, polymethyl methacrylate among else. Possible side effects: allergies, immune disorders, cancer risk;
– Lipstick contains about 33 chemicals, including polymethyl methacrylate. Possible side effects: allergies, cancer risk;
– Nail polish contains an average of 31 chemicals, including phthalates. Possible side effects: infertility and pregnancy development issues;
– Deodorants contain 15 chemicals on average, from which the most worrying is Isopropyl Myristate. Possible side effects: irritation of skin, eyes and lungs, headache, dizziness and breathing problems.
– Perfumes contain an average of 250 chemicals, from which the most problematic one is benzaldehyde. Possible side effects: irritation, hormonal disorders;
– Body lotions contain about 32 chemicals, including methylparaben, propylparaben and polyethylene glycol, which can also be found in oven cleaning products. Possible side effects: irritation, hormonal disorders;
– Suntan lotions contain approximately 22 chemicals, some of the most notorious including ethylparaben, methylparaben and propylparabens. Possible side effects: irritation, hormonal disorders.
Parabens, for example, are added to extend the shelf life of cosmetics. Parabens are found in shampoos, hair gels, shaving gel and body lotion, but their use is becoming increasingly controversial. A range of different studies has linked parabens to serious health problems, including breast cancer and fertility problems in men. Researchers at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine suggest that some parabens which until now were considered safe, such as methylparaben, can evolve and become toxic when exposed to sunlight. They can cause premature aging of the skin and cause an increased risk of skin cancer.
Metilparaben type chemicals are found in more than 16,000 products, including moisturizers and toothpaste. Manufacturers of cosmetics have always defended the use of parabens saying that these cannot be absorbed into the body. But many scholars disagree with this, including Dr. Barbara Olioso, an independent professional chemist, who clarifies that research shows that between 20% and 60% of parabens can be absorbed by the body.
There are a number of laws designed to protect us from dangerous chemicals in cosmetics, but researchers worry that these do not go far enough. For example, manufacturers of cosmetic products must list the ingredients used, but they are not required to tell us about the impurities found in raw materials or in those used in the manufacturing process, as long as they do not end up in the finished product.
Manufacturing industry insists that cosmetic products are safe, and that stringent laws require that all cosmetic products are subjected to rigorous safety assessments. The number of ingredients in a product, however, whether it’s natural or manufactured, has no bearing on its safety. They also say that chemicals are only present in cosmetics in safe amounts, and they can’t harm us. While this may be true, there is some disagreement over what a “safe level” means – for children and adults with an increased sensitivity, even low levels of chemicals can be dangerous.
Opt for organic products
High-tech new generation cosmetics and “miracle” beauty treatments contain more chemicals to achieve the expected results. And of course, most women use them regularly. If you want to protect yourself from harmful chemicals, try reducing the use of cosmetics, opting for natural and organic products; always read labels carefully.