In an effort to clean up our hair products, many of us have given up the relaxers, sulfates, and parabens in our styling products but how often do we think about these same ingredients in our cosmetics? The skin is our largest organ and it just about absorbs anything we put on it. Many of the beauty items we use on a daily basis contain ingredients that are banned in Europe for their potentially harmful side effects. So why is it that the Food and Drug Administration does such a bad job at protecting it’s public from harmful additives in our cosmetics that poison us from the outside in? The FDA has banned a total of 11 beauty ingredients here in the states meanwhile across the pond in the EU there are over 1,300! Take for example Cover Girl waterproof mascara. It contains some of the same illegal and banned ingredients in Europe. If that’s not enough to give you pause, here is a list of nine beauty ingredients banned in Europe that may be lurking in your makeup and skin care.
Triclosan – Found in many cleansers like hand soaps, toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants, triclosan may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria is suspected to be an endocrine disrupter. ULTA Anti-Bacterial Deep Cleansing Hand Soap, Intimore To-Go Intimate Wipes and and Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash, Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment contain triclosan.
Nickel – This sneaky allergen can often be found in many eye shadows, and mascara. Many eyelash curlers contain nickel as well and it can also be found on the ferrule (metal part between bristles and handle) of makeup brushes.
Lead – Kills brain cells and disrupts brain development yet lead can be easily found in many of you favorite Lipsticks like L’Oreal, Maybelline, and Nars to name a few.
Hydroquinone – Is often used to treat hyperpigmentation but it could also cause a skin condition called Ochronosis, which causes the skin to harden and get dark. It has also been said to cause cancer and is banned in Europe even in low doses. Hydroquinone is most often in “pigment” and “lightening” cream and serum type beauty products. Ambi Fade Cream and Murad Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel contain hydroquinone.
Quaternium-15 – A formaldehyde-releasing preservative, this surfactant is found in many shampoos and conditioners releases chemicals that could severely irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs. Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo was recently reformulated to no longer contains this ingredient. Philosophy Amazing Grace Shampoo, Bath & Shower Gel and Cover Girl Clean Pressed Powder, Normal Skin contain Quaternium-15.
Progesterone – Used in birth control to trigger our hormones into thinking that we are pregnant. Though some people swear by it, others claim it’s very dangerous. It can be found in many moisturizers.
Asbestos (found in some Talc-based products) – Now I am pretty sure you have heard about this carcinogen before as it causes many respiratory diseases like emphysema, and sarcoidosis yet it can be found in many personal care powders. Asbestos can occur naturally in talc which is used in many baby powders and makeup. Judith Winkel won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against
Colgate-Palmolive after developing mesothelioma from asbestos in the company’s Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder. Asbestos causes mesothelioma. Between September 28, 2009 and September 27, 2010, the FDA tested talc-based cosmetics and stated that the found on asbestos but the study was not conclusive and they could not confirm that no asbestos-contaminated talc was still be sold in the U.S.
Formaldehyde – This dangerous compound has been linked to causing cancer but it can still be found in many nail polish brands. Salon Perfect Strip Eyelash Adhesive and OPI Base Coat, Top Coat & Nail Strengthener, Regular Formula contain formaldehyde.
Butylparaben – Is a human endocrine disruptor and it has been known to cause reproductive complications like sterility in men. It is used as an antimicrobial preservative to give cosmetics a longer shelf life. Iman Time Control Replenishing Serum and Dr. Brandt time arrest cream contain butylparaben.
According to The Environmental Working Group, “The Food and Drug Administration has no authority to require companies to test cosmetics products for safety. The agency does not review or approve the vast majority of products or ingredients before they go on the market. FDA conducts pre-market reviews only of certain cosmetics color additives and active ingredients that are classified as over-the-counter drugs (FDA 2005, 2010).”
Equip yourself with knowledge of these harmful ingredients and read before you buy. To safeguard against potetially dangerous ingreidents, double check your purchases with The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database which is a databases of online safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products.
Words by Erin Duke and Simone Digital.