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 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 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.
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.
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 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.