The world of makeup is a vibrant and colourful one; there to bring out the confidence and beauty in all. However, there is a darker side to this market which we here at glo believe must be talked about. Many do not realise that residing in some of their favourite brands, are products containing ingredients which are dangerous and harmful to your health. Since the cosmetic industry is so extensive and arguably overwhelming, it is only natural to bee-line for big-name brands, regarding them as the safest and most trustworthy products. Nevertheless, no matter where you shop from, we can’t stress enough the importance of reading the labels, to ensure that the makeup you are putting on your skin are 100% safe. Below we list just a few ingredients to look out for and avoid when you are on your next shopping spree!
Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in beauty care products which stop bacterial growth in your makeup and creams. Amazing right? Wrong. Parabens are said to cause endocrine disruption, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity. A study conducted by Philippa Darbre, a senior lecturer in oncology and researcher in biomolecular sciences at the University of Reading, discovered that parabens were detected in 18 of 20 samples of tissue from breast tumour biopsies. She argues that ‘we’ve known for more than 25 years that oestrogen exposure is linked to breast cancer development and progression; it is the reason tamoxifen [commonly prescribed to women with breast cancer] is used to disrupt oestrogen receptors,’ says Darbre. ‘So it is not such a leap to be concerned that repeated, cumulative, long-term exposure to chemicals that weakly mimic oestrogen might be having an impact.’
Names to look out for in your products: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, other ingredients ending in ‘paraben’.
Talc is a mineral that is added to personal care products for various reasons including as a drying agent, to protect the skin, to make the product opaque or to prevent caking. Thus, it is often found in makeup, baby powder and other cosmetic talcum powder formulations. There have been allegations that talc particles can contain asbestos and thus leave consumers at risk of ovarian and lung cancer.
Names to look out for in your products: talcum powder; soapstone; steatite; magnesium silicate
In beauty products, benzophenone is used as a fragrance enhancer or to prevent products such as soaps from losing their scents and colours in the presence of UV light. Benzophenone can cause cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, irritation and eco-toxicity.
Names to look out for in your products: Benzophenone, ingredients containing the word benzophenone (for example benzophenone-2), BP# (for example BP2), oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, sulisobenzone sodium.
This ingredient is a black powder commonly used as a pigment in eye and lip cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. It derives from incomplete combustion of coal-tar and other carbon-based products. It has been linked to an increase in cancer, organ system toxicity and other general negative effects on organs.
Names to look out for in your products: Carbon black, D & C Black No. 2, acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black, and thermal black.
‘Fragrance’ is a very broad term which is defined by the FDA as a combination of chemicals. These chemical components are protected as trade secrets and described on the label only as ‘fragrance’ which can be alarming as you are incapable of knowing whether the concoction of chemicals are hazardous to your health. In addition to the trade protected ‘scent’ chemicals, Fragrance contains solvents, stabilisers, UV-absorbers, preservatives, and dyes, which are often, but not always, listed on labels. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) lists 3,059 materials that are reportedly used in fragrance compounds and there is some evidence linking certain materials to health problems such as cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.
Names to look out for in your products: Fragrance, perfume, parfum, essential oil blend, aroma.
Formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant and preservative for the prevention of bacterial growth in beauty products including nail polish, eye shadow, mascara, nail treatment, shampoo, and blusher. Pure Formaldehyde is a natural occurring gas; however certain chemicals are added to beauty products as they release Formaldehyde slowly over time. Being exposed repeatedly to this chemical can cause allergic reactions of the skin (dermatitis) and the lungs (asthma). In addition, studies have exposed that Formaldehyde is linked to Leukaemia as well as other forms of cancer in the throat, nose and sinuses. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers formaldehyde a known carcinogen. However, that is not all, those exposed to Formaldehyde can suffer from infertility and pregnant women are more likely to have a miscarriage.
Names to look out for in your products: diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, and polyoxymethylene urea.
Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminium, zinc, chromium and iron can be found in makeup, whitening toothpaste, sun creams, moisturisers and even eye drops. While sometimes metals are added deliberately as ingredients others are contaminants and these contaminate metals are not listed on product ingredient labels. Exposure to heavy metals has been linked to reproductive problems as well as immune and nervous system toxicity.
Names to look out for in your products: Lead acetate, chromium, thimerosal, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, sodium hexametaphosphate.