By Dra Maria Zweig

How do I know the cosmetics I´m using are safe?

Cosmetics, washes, hair products

The average adult woman uses nine personal care products each day containing an average of 126 different chemicals. –

The cosmetics industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and in a race to reduce prices of their manufacturing, many producers have cut costs by using cheaper ingredients. These ingredients, even though they produce a cheaper product, may have some negative side-effects. The application of these chemicals to your skin, may be even more dangerous than those found in your food because applying it your skin, they’re absorbed directly into your bloodstream, without filtering of any kind, unlike when you eat something and the enzyme in your saliva and stomach can break them down. The skin is our largest organ and right now the majority of the population is not doing enough to take care of it. Though there are thousands of dangerous chemicals being used by the cosmetic industry we are going to number the most prevalent, and widely used chemicals that you should avoid as a consumer.

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

                 Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, ammonium lauryl sulfate

SLS is a surfacent, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products. It is present in almost every shampoo, soap, cosmetic, body wash etc. According the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews, research studies on SLS have shown links to: irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/ reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, cellular changes, and possible mutation and cancer. So far, there have been over 16,000 studies in Pubmed science library about the toxicity of this chemical. This chemical is used as a cheap alternative for other cleansing and foaming agents in cleansers. Over exposure to this product for long periods of time can be dangerous, you don’t have to avoid it completely but you should look to buy products that don’t contain this chemical if available.

          Artificial Fragrance

Many products use artificial fragrance to enhance the smell of their products instead of an essential oil too bring down the cost. Not all fragrances are harmful but products don’t have to name what type of fragrances they use, they can mask the specific type of fragrance with “fragrance” and not have to go into detail. These fragrances are derived from petrochemicals, these chemicals can include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, phthalates, and a wide range of other chemicals that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, nervous system disorders and allergies. The EWG Environmental Working Group researchers found that 75 percent of the products listing the ingredient “fragrance” contained phthalates, which have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, cause liver and breast cancer, and even reproductive malformation if you use them while pregnant. We recommend avoiding products that lists fragrance as an ingredient and instead use a product that uses essential oil or natural compounds to create a scent. Not only are you missing out on all the benefits of essential oils but in the long run some fragrances might cause you harm.

          BHA and BPT

Butylated hydroxyanisole is used in many cosmetics to disrupt the process of spoilage. It’s a cheaper alternative to other chemicals to help preserve foods and cosmetics. Up to date there has not been enough research too really understand the negative side effects of this chemical. The international agency for research on cancer classifies BHA as a possible human carcinogen, the European Union prohibits the use of BHA as fragrance ingredient in cosmetics. Long-term exposure to high doses of BHY is toxic in mice and rats, may act as a tumor promoter in certain situation, and high doses of BHA may mimic estrogen. In small doses the chemical has been shown to be relatively safe, but the high prevalence of the chemical in both cosmetics and food products may lead to over exposure, so when available we urge our patients to seek alternatives.

Other chemicals that have been linked with negative side-effects and should be avoided in high doses.

1. Parabens also used as a preservative, and in an estimated 75-90 percent of cosmetics. Parabens can mimic estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. Parabens were also detected in human breast cancer tissue, raising questions about possible association.

2. Coal tar dyes are used extensively in cosmetics and hair dyes, it is usually listed as FD&C or D&C also as P-phenylenediamine. Coal tar is a mixture of many chemical derived from petroleum. It is recognized as a possible carcinogen and more importantly may be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and some are combined with aluminum substrate that are toxic to the brain.

3. Formaldehyde releasing agents used a preservatives and include chemicals such as DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolindinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl urea. These ingredients are a concern because they slowly release formaldehyde, which the international agency for research on cancer classifies as a known human carcinogen.}

In addition to all the chemicals listed there is still research going into a wide range of chemicals, which are staples in most of our products, for possible side effects. Research and studies have shown us that small doses of some of these chemicals are harmless but the high prevalence of these chemicals found in almost all of our products is a recipe for disaster. Even if some of these chemicals may not be dangerous in small doses we don’t know how they would react with other chemicals in some other product you are using, or if taking small doses of a chemical from many different sources can lead to overexposure. Like I stated earlier more research is still needed but we recommend to look for natural alternatives whenever possible or economically feasible too lower your exposure, and ALWAYS read the label of what you are consuming and applying to your face. As you may have noticed a majority of these chemicals are used as preservatives, this is because these products are being shipped from all over the World, that is why we recommend our readers to buy local, local produce contain lesser amount of preservatives because there isn’t as much need for them.


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