How much attention do you pay to the ingredients that go in to your makeup and beauty products? I confess till recently I was not too concerned. When I started reading up on this, I was shocked to discover several ingredients that are known to cause damage still continue to figure in products. Some of them cause mild damage like skin irritation and allergies. On the other hand some chemicals have been labeled “possibly carcinogenic” (cancer causing) and can cause serious damage to skin in the long run. While it’s important to realize that researchers define them only as “possibly” and “potentially” dangerous, it always pays to be aware of what goes on your skin.
Recently an article in the Business Standard published the results of a Consumer Research and Education Society (CERS) study. The CERS tested 43 varieties of lipsticks from 19 brands and found that there were detectable levels of lead. Lakme D414 and Ivovi 10 (Brown) were found to have 23 and 25 parts per million (PPM) respectively. This is well above the Bureau of Indian Standard’s maximum limit of 20 ppm. Lead is considered toxic and is proven to cause development and fertility problems.
The following are some common ingredients that have been proven to have ill effects on skin.
1) PROPYLENE GLYCOL(MSDS)
Popularly called industrial anti freeze this is found in some body lotions and creams. This is used in brake and hydraulic fluids. This is proven skin irritant. Large quantities are known to cause serious skin allergies.
2) MINERAL OIL (PETROLATUM, PETROLEUM) (MSDS)
Comes from crude oil (petroleum) used in industry as metal cutting fluid. This is known to “suffocate” skin by forming an oil film. Used in the long run, this can make skin sensitive. This product is found in lipsticks, lotions, make-up removers, liquid foundations, and is usually the main ingredient in baby oil. The term “mineral” often misleads people, when in fact this is derived from crude oil.
3) SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) and SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES) (MSDS)
These two ingredients are common in several shampoos and shower gels. Some studies show that can cause may cause potentially carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins to form in the bottles of shampoos and cleansers by reacting with other ingredients.
4) SODIUM CHLORIDE
This is used to increase the viscosity in cosmetic products. It can be commonly found in oral hygiene products, shampoos, fragrance, skin, hair, nail, cleansing and bath products. . If this is not used in appropriate concentrations, it can cause skin and eye irritations.
According to the FDA (USA) has mandated that over the counter eye products can have only 2-4% sodium chloride. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) has deferred their safety review. This is because the FDA has already mandated what the “safe” level in products are
5) TITANIUM DIOXIDE
Inhaling titanium dioxide dust has been declared possibly carcinogenic (cancer causing) to humans. This is used in several sunscreens. I am familiar with this product from my research days. Considering its extensive industrial uses, I will never put this on my skin!
Collagen was marketed as a wonder product by some companies a few years ago. While some companies claim that this benefits the skin’s own collagen, this has been disputed by several medical experts. Its large molecules can suffocate the skin and not allow it to breathe freely. However some companies add only low molecular weight collagen, which is safer on skin.
Several products with AHA claim to exfoliate the outer layer of your skin and give you smoother skin. Too much of AHA can strip you of the outer layer of your skin. In the short term, while this may give you younger and better looking skin it can cause damage in the long run. Your outer layer of skin (however dull and boring it is) is your first line of defense against environmental damage. The FDA had even raised concerns about using this in cosmetics.
This was popularly used in toners till a few years ago. Alcohol can be cause irritation on sensitive skin and was also found to remove some of the skin’s natural oils. Alcohol is used to remove stubborn dirt from hard surfaces such as computer keyboards. If it is strong enough to remove that, can you imagine what regular use can do to your skin?
Over the years, manufacturers themselves have started avoiding using this in products. Irrespective of your skin type, choosing a water based toner over an alcohol based one is always a good idea.
Labeling of products
There is another myth that all natural products are 100% natural. On the contrary even natural products have a considerable amount of artificial preservatives and colorants. There is no law defining the term “natural products”. Hence adding chemicals as a preservative is not illegal and has ended being quite common.
There is a misconception that any product labeled “hypoallergenic” can be safely used on sensitive skin. Hypoallergenic is defined as being “slightly allergenic”. This term is not defined by law. Hence when used with respect to beauty products, it does not mean that this will not cause an allergy. It only means there it has “lesser” chances of causing a bad reaction. It is always advisable to do a patch test with even hypoallergenic products.
Allergies and products from your kitchen shelf:
Allergies and bad reaction are not caused by just chemicals. Several natural remedies can be reactive too. When I consulted a dermatologist for an allergic reaction, I was surprised when he asked me to stay away from home made face packs as well. He explained that when your skin is having allergic reaction even stuff like curd, lime, honey etc can worsen the situation.
Disclaimer: While this post is not against make up companies (hello no I love make up too much for that! ).. it is also important we as consumers become more aware. I hope this information was useful and will encourage to you to check ingredients before buying a product!
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