Tag Archives: Formaldehyde

Cosmetic Ingredients That Aren’t so Safe

Woman reading beauty product label

The Food and Drug Administration regulates cosmetic products, but how strict are these regulations? The answer may shock you. The cosmetics industry is largely unregulated; there is no pre-approval by the FDA before a product arrives on your shelves and there is only a very small and minimal approval process for color additives or any ingredients classified as over-the-counter drugs. If you aren’t already, get into the habit of thoroughly reading the ingredient list of every product you purchase, and if you see any of the following, look for something else.

Synthetic Colors
Synthetic colors are widely used in cosmetics, but you definitely want to think twice before purchasing something containing them. If the ingredients list on your label includes FD&C or D&C, then those ingredients are representative of synthetic colors. The “F” represents food and the “D&C” represents drugs and cosmetics. Synthetic colors are written so that the letters come right before a color and a number. These synthetic colors are produced using petroleum or coal tar sources, are dangerous because they are suspected human carcinogen, are a known skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. The European Union classifies synthetic colors as human carcinogens and has thus banned them from being used in cosmetics.

Fragrance
Fragrance may seem harmless enough, but this cosmetic ingredient is actually one of the most troubling. The term “fragrance” began being used as a way to protect a company’s “secret formula.” Because of this, cosmetic companies do not have to divulge what ingredients are actually being used in their “fragrance.” Fragrances are well-known for causing health problems like allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and even some reproductive issues. Since you have no idea what chemicals or toxins are present in a “fragrance,” it’s best to steer clear of this ingredient.

Formaldehyde
Cosmetic companies include formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives to inhibit bacteria growth, which seems like it would be a good thing. However, this chemical has been identified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens. Formaldehyde is also known to cause allergic skin reactions and is potentially harmful to your immune system.

Toluene
This chemical is derived from either petroleum or coal tar sources, and it may be labeled as toluol, benzene, methylbenzene and phenylmethane. Toluene is a very potent solvent and can be used to dissolve paint, which is an indication that this ingredient should not be going onto or into your body. Toluene may also cause nausea, skin irritation and could be harmful to your respiratory system.

Triclosan
Triclosan is a chemical antibacterial that can be found commonly in products like toothpaste and soaps. However, there is no supporting research that using soaps containing triclosan is more effective than washing with regular soap and water. Because of this, there is no reason to subject yourself to the potential harm caused by triclosan that includes skin irritation and thyroid or reproductive system disruptions. Additionally, studies have raised concern that using products containing triclosan may lead to creating bacteria that is antibiotic resistant.

Reading labels is important in every aspect of your life, from the food you choose to the beauty products you apply to your skin. When it comes to cosmetic ingredients, avoid the one above because it’s better to play it safe than to risk your health.

Skin Care Ingredient No-Nos: What to Avoid

You know that what you put onto your skin is just as important as what you put into your body. When grocery shopping and deciding on food you probably stop to read labels and find out what is really in the food you are eating (and if you don’t do this…start now!). You may not know, though, that you should be doing the same thing with all of your skin care products. Think all beauty and skin care products are created equal? Think again! If you see any of the following ingredients on a beauty label, put the product down and look for something else that will help, rather than harm, your skin.

Chemical formula of Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde
If you are familiar with formaldehyde you may be shocked to learn that it can be an ingredient in your beauty products. Yes, this is the formaldehyde used in preserving dead bodies. Formaldehyde can be found in nail polish and nail polish treatments, shampoo and conditioner, body washes and cleansers and eyeshadow. Formaldehyde is a recognized human carcinogen (cancer causing agent) by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens. In other words, if you see formaldehyde in an ingredient list, drop the product immediately.

Parabens
Parabens, along with sodium lauryl sufates, have gotten tons of attention in the past few years where beauty products are concerned. Parabens are used in the vast majority of makeup products, cleansers, shampoos, body washes and deodorants. They sound like a great thing – they are used as preservatives to avoid bacteria growth in products. However, they are a highly suspected source of increased breast cancer risk.

Chemical formula of Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol
This does not sound like something you want on your face or body and it certainly isn’t. While this ingredient may not be quite as hazardous to your health as formaldehyde, propylene glycol is definitely something to avoid. Often found in moisturizers, conditioners and shampoos, propylene glycol is a known skin irritant and is far from soothing, which is the intended use.

Fragrance
This skin care and beauty product ingredient is a tricky one to identify and pin down because it is hard to define a fragrance. The term was originally used to protect the secret formulations of beauty companies, but this works against consumers who want to be informed of what they put on their skin. Some fragrances are irritants to the skin and are unfortunately found in many skin and beauty products from shampoos to foundations.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free Sign

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate 
This is an ingredient that has gotten a lot of buzz in the beauty community. This surfectant is located in somewhere near 90% of all foaming products, such as cleaners, shampoos, body washes and soaps. Sodium lauryl (and laureth) sulfates are known to be irritants to the skin, lungs and eyes. Additionally, there is concern that sodium lauryl sulfates can combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.

Toxic beauty ingredients can be seemingly hard to avoid because they are so prevalent. However, beauty companies are now catering to consumers desires for safety and effective products. Be sure to read the labels on all products you use and look for natural options when you can to decrease the risk of irritation and illness.