Healthy Cosmetics: Safety and Ingredients

About 84 percent of women wear and use cosmetics in their daily lives. However, most women don’t even know what goes into the products that they apply to their skin. This can be a problem, as many dangerous ingredients in cosmetics can easily soak into the skin and the body.  As regulations on cosmetics are very relaxed in the U.S, consumers have the burden of researching the ingredients of every product themselves before they purchase.

To really understand whether cosmetics are safe or healthy, we have to look carefully at the ingredients that are used, both good and bad. It’s important for women to understand what goes into their bodies. That way, they can make an informed decision about which cosmetics to buy and use.

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Safe Ingredients in Cosmetics

Although government regulations on cosmetics are very lenient in the United States, that does not mean that your health is at risk every time you put on your makeup. There are scientifically proven ingredients in your cosmetics that have been deemed safe. Below is a short list of some of those safe ingredients that may be found in your cosmetics and which type of products may contain them.

  • Alcohols: The word Alcohol generally has a negative connotation attached to it when it comes to overall health, but in cosmetics, the opposite is true. Alcohol allows products to spread smoothly and easily, and pose no health risks whatsoever. They are primarily found in conditioners and hair products.
  • Conditioning Polymers: While there are many different types of conditioning polymers that you can find at Polymer Chemistry, the most common and cheapest one by far is glycerin. Conditioning polymers help moisture stick to your skin and hair. They also prevent makeup and other products you may have already applied from drying out.
  • Tocopherol: Another term for Vitamin E, tocopherol protects the skin from free radicals, reduces inflammation, and helps moisturize the skin. It can be found in moisturizing creams, and in some healthy foods such as spinach, nuts, seeds, and sunflower oil.
  • Isopropyl: Chemically speaking, isopropyl is defined as the removal of a hydrogen atom from the middle of a carbon atom. What this does for your cosmetics is aid in the process of binding ingredients together in order to help condition and lubricate the skin. Isopropyl can be found in most beauty products and is completely harmless to your health.

In addition to ingredients, some cosmetics may use dyes or color additives in their products. Unlike ingredients, these dyes are heavily regulated by the FDA, which means that they are all safe in FDA approved dosages, so there is no reason to worry about them as a consumer. Some of the most common dyes used in cosmetics include Aluminum powder, Bismuth oxychloride, Bismuth citrate, Copper powder, and Guanine.

Hazardous Ingredients in Cosmetics

Due to the fact that there are so many different cosmetic products to choose from, and that 84 percent of women wear them, it is crucial to understand the products that contain hazardous ingredients. Below is a short list of some of those hazardous ingredients that may be found in your cosmetics, and which type of products generally contain them.

  • Parabens: According to the FDA, there are reasons to believe that parabens are linked to breast cancer, skin cancer, and even decreased sperm count. Parabens mimic estrogen and can be found in makeup, moisturizer, shaving gel, shampoo, personal lubricant, and spray tan products. Although the FDA can not say at this time that parabens definitively cause these health problems, there is a reason to believe it, and for that reason, I suggest to just stay away from this ingredient.
  • Petroleum Distillates: There are many reasons to avoid this ingredient at all costs, but I would argue the main reason is that they are produced in oil refineries at the same time these refineries are producing automobile fuel and heating oil. Because of this, petroleum distillates have been linked to cancer-causing impurities and may cause dermatitis. This ingredient is generally found in mascara.   
  • Oxybenzone: One of the highest risk chemicals we know of today, oxybenzone can be found primarily in sunscreens. Similarly to parabens, this ingredient acts like estrogen and has been proven to alter sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women. When choosing your sunscreen, look for ones that contain the ingredients zinc oxide, titanium oxide, or avobenzone instead of oxybenzone.
  • BHA: According to the National Toxicology Program, this ingredient is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” More specifically, BHA can cause skin depigmentation, liver damage, and stomach cancers. The European Union concurs with the National Toxicology Program and labels BHA as unsafe in fragrances.

Understanding the ingredients that go into your cosmetics can help you make informed decisions about the products that go into your body. Choosing safe cosmetics over ones with hazardous ingredients will help to prevent future illnesses and harm. Don’t forget – when choosing the product for you, make sure it’s good for both your style and your health!

About the author:

Naomi Shaw is a freelance journalist residing in sunny Southern California with her husband and three children. She is a work-at-home mom that enjoys writing on fashion, beauty, jewelry, and everything weddings!

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