Monday, August 6, 2007

Cosmetic Ingredients

If there is no other motivation to stop using conventional cosmetics, the health risks posed by their ingredients should be. Cosmetic ingredients are not required to be tested for safety and many if not most are not assessed at all for risks to our health. Cosmetic companies will tell you that even if there is some evidence of potentially harmful effects of ingredients used in their products, they are used in such low concentrations that they aren’t a problem. But the average woman uses between 9-17 beauty products on her face, body, hair, etc. each day! So you are getting several applications of these ingredients every single day. Our bodies absorb these chemicals and since our systems have trouble flushing these synthetics out, we store them in our bodies and they wreak havoc on us over time. Below I have listed just a few common ingredients that show up in many cosmetic items like foundations, powders, eyeshadows, liners, mascara, cheek color and lip color. But of course there are countless others that are equally scary. If you want to look up ingredients or specific products to see their safety ratings and details, go to http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/index.php . This website is amazing and so informative. It is the source for the info below and a crucial resource to public health and safety education at this point because the companies making the products aren’t going to tell you this stuff.

Talc- potential carcinogen and a known respiratory toxicant, not tested by industry panel for safety in cosmetic use, some lab tests resulted in skin irritation, possibility of contamination with asbestiform fibers (extremely carcinogenic)

Mineral oil- possible human immune toxicant and potentially cancerous, low to moderate doses in some lab tests resulted in sense organ effects and skin irritation, not assessed for safety in cosmetics by industry panel

Parabens (methylparaben is most common)- Human skin toxicant, one or more lab tests showed organ system effects, positive mutation in mammalian cells in vitro, weak endocrine disruption, brain and nervous system effects, skin irritation, and gene expression interference

Ferric ferrocyanide-Known human respiratory toxicant, one or more lab tests resulted in brain and nervous system effects at moderate doses

BHT-human immune system and skin toxicant, one or more lab studies using low doses show endocrine system disruption, brain and nervous system effects, and skin irritation, reproductive system effects at high doses, and one or more in vitro tests on mammalian cells show positive mutation results

Silica- (finely ground as in loose or pressed powdered products that could be inhaled)- Strong evidence of dust being an immune system toxicant, cancer risk, respiratory toxicant, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and renal toxicant, and bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans

“Lake” colors (various pigments used for color)- Strong evidence of human neurotoxicity and nervous system toxicity, and one or more in vitro tests non-mammalian cells show positive mutation results.

It is possible to wear makeup (if you want to) without using dangerous ingredients. There are a few companies that are making truly safe cosmetics. That’s the next post.

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