I found an article in The Desert Sun, out of Palm Springs California, about toxic ingredients to avoid in makeup. Thankfully, this subject seems to be getting more attention lately.
The best way to check out your favorite cosmetics is to visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. There you can find ratings about the chemical safety of thousands of products.
You could also use this list of toxic ingredients, many of which I have written about here. Again, from the Desert Sun:
“Lead and mercury: Lead is found in hair dyes and makeup. It is a toxin for the brain and nervous system and can cause infertility or miscarriage.
Mercury is found as a preservative in eye cosmetics. It is a toxin for the nervous system.
Parabens: Found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants, topical pharmaceuticals and toothpaste, parabens have been found in tissue samples from human breast tumors, according to one study.
Parabens come in many types, including methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, isobutyl- and others and can mimic estrogen.
Phthalates: Found in fragrances, hair products, deodorants, lotions and much more, this chemical plastic has caused birth defects in lab animals.
Phthalates are often listed under the term “fragrance” on labels, so select fragrance-free products.
Petrochemicals: Found in anti-aging creams, lipsticks, baby creams, eye shadows, mascara, perfume, lip balm and more. Listed as petrolatum, paraffin and mineral oil, these products can cause allergic reactions and contain suspected carcinogens.
Placenta: Found in hair relaxers, moisturizers and toners. Placenta produces hormones that can disrupt the body’s normal hormone production and lead to serious problems.
Nanoparticles: Found in sunscreens, eye shadows, bronzers and lotions. These are extremely small particles that can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream and have not been tested for safety.
Diethanolamine (DEA): Used in shampoos, DEA is a suspected carcinogen. Also look for triethanolamine (TEA), which can be contaminated with nitrosamines, compounds shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Contamination is more likely if the product also contains Bronopol.
Formaldehyde: Found in eye makeup, mascara and other cosmetics, formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen.
In its liquid state, look for it listed as DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea and quaternium-15, which can be absorbed through the skin and nails.
Bronopol, often listed as 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, can contribute to the formation of cancer.
Glycol Ethers: Found in nail polish, deodorant, fragrances and other cosmetics, some glycol ethers are hazardous to the reproductive system and can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat.
Avoid EGPE, EGME, EGEE, DEGBE, PGME, DPGME and those with “methyl” in their names.
Phenylenediamine (PPD): Found in hair dye, this is also called oxidation dyes, amino dyes, para dyes or peroxide dyes. PPD has been banned in Europe as a carcinogen.
Toluene: Found in nail polish. Can cause liver damage and irritate the respiratory tract.”
One problem I see with this list is that no product has a label that shares lead or mercury as ingredients! Why are manufacturers able to put in ingredients that aren’t listed on their labels?
And it’s worth saying again that any manufacturer can use anything in their products (barring a handful of chemicals) and sell it without any government review, approval, or research about its safety.
Image: Flickr by Hailey Von Purr