Most of us are aware that there is a myriad of toxic chemicals in our daily care products. But are they really that dangerous since they are so widely used in the world? In the list below we will explore the harmful effects of chemicals such as parabens, petrolatum, PEG compounds, BHA & BHT, phthalates, mercury and lead commonly found in fragrances, shampoos, cosmetics and nail polishes.
Studies show that pregnant women who use products that contain chemicals like these, their children will display more disruptive behavior than should be expected years later. Chemicals like nitrosamines found in many inorganic cosmetics are implicated in brain & kidney cancer according to the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel. An ingredient contaminating 22% of all personal care products is 1,4-dioxane, a cancer-causing substance.
Read on to learn about other ingredients in your cosmetics that, when used continuously for many years, are almost guaranteed to harm you and your body.
1 – Parabens: Preservative found in about 75%-90% of cosmetics.
Parabens are the most widely used preservative in cosmetics. They are also used as fragrance ingredients, but this is usually not listed on the label as fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets which manufacturers are not required to disclose (see also Fragrance/Parfum). An estimated 75 to 90 percent of all cosmetics contain parabens.
Effects: Parabens penetrate easily into the skin and can mimic estrogen, the primary female sex hormone and have been detected in human breast cancer tissues. Studies also indicate that methylparaben, when applied on the skin, reacts with UVB leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage.
2 – Petrolatum: Found in lipsticks, lip balm, hair products & moisturizers.
Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly (i.e. petroleum jelly).
Effects: May be cancer-causing when contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
3 – PEG Compounds: Used in cosmetics as thickeners, softeners, solvents and moisture-carriers such as cosmetic cream bases.
PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based compounds.
Effects: The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies ethylene oxide as a known human carcinogen that can harm the nervous system and interfere with human development.
4 – BHA & BHT: Found in lipsticks and moisturizers.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are closely related synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives.
Effects: Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA).
5 – Dibutyl phthalate: Found in nail products.
Phthalates are also used as fragrance ingredients in many other cosmetics, but consumers won’t find these listed on the label. Fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets, so manufacturers are not required to disclose fragrance chemicals in the ingredient list.
Effects: Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. It can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations, even though it has not been shown to be a mutagen itself.
6 – Mercury: Found in mascaras, lip gloss, lip liner, lipstick eye liner, eye shadow, brow liner, moisturizer and even baby lotion.
The preservative thimerosol is a mercury-containing product.
Effects: Mercury is associated with a host of health concerns including allergic reactions, skin irritation, toxicity, neurological damage and bioaccumulation. Mercury readily passes into the body through the skin, so normal use of the product results in exposure.
7 – Lead: Found in lipsticks cosmetics, batteries, plastics, insecticides, pottery glaze and soldered pipes.
Lead is a neurotoxin and is poisonous when ingested. No safe blood level of lead is known. Even the lowest levels have shown to affect the fetus and the central nervous system in children.
Effects: Small amounts are recognized as hazardous to human health. Infants, toddlers, children, fetuses and pregnant women are most susceptible to its chronic low-dose effects. Chronic low-level exposure may affect the blood, kidneys, immune system, cardiovascular system and especially the central and peripheral nervous systems. Lead exposure has also been linked to miscarriage, menstrual irregularities, reduced fertility in men and women, delays in puberty onset in girls, hormonal changes, memory loss, nerve, joint and muscle disorders, skeletal, cardiovascular, kidney and renal problems.