Many cosmetics contain potentially harmful chemicals. Let’s see what they are and how to learn to recognize them to avoid them.
The purpose of cosmetics should be to make our skin more beautiful and healthy, yet some products contain harmful substances , not only for the health of the skin, but also for the environment.
Unfortunately, identifying them is not easy, because you should be able to read the INCI of the products , or the list of ingredients reported by law on the label. The names of the components, however, are written difficult to understand for those unfamiliar with chemistry. What we can do is learn what the potentially harmful substances are , so as to avoid the cosmetics that contain them. Let’s see what are the main ones.
What are the harmful chemicals in cosmetics?
Formaldehyde : potentially carcinogenic substance, it is often contained in hair dyes and enamels. In the European Union, however, it is prohibited.
Phthalates : plasticizers often contained in perfumes and deodorants, prohibited in toys both in the USA and in the EU. Side effects include endocrine disruption and cancer.
Hydroquinone : it is an ingredient present in creams and lotions to lighten the skin, highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic.
MEA / TEA / DEA : these are emulsifiers and foaming agents, present in shower gel, shower gel and shampoo, which could be carcinogenic.
Mineral oil : also referred to as Paraffin or Petrolatum, it is a byproduct of petroleum, used in numerous oils and moisturizers for face and body. It creates a kind of barrier on the skin, preventing it from breathing and expelling toxins properly.
Lead : carcinogenic substance contained in some hair dyes and make-up, especially in lipsticks. Unfortunately, being a contamination and not an ingredient, it is not indicated on the label.
Parabens : preservatives used in many cosmetics, the safety of which is discussed. Indeed, some studies claim that they may be partly responsible for breast cancer.
Parafenilnediammina (PPD) : toxic substance that damages the skin and the immune system, used in dyes and other hair products .
Silicones : used as emollients, they do not let the skin breathe and are not biodegradable.
SLS and SLES : aggressive foaming agents, which can irritate the skin.
Talc : contained in many baby products and powdered make-up (face powders, blushes, eye shadows), it could cause respiratory problems and ovarian cancer.
Toluene : contained in nail polishes and hair products, it can cause fetal damage in pregnant women and problems with the endocrine system.
Triclosan : disinfectant contained in many hygiene products, it is potentially carcinogenic and harmful to the endocrine system.
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