The news is regularly littered with stories of food recalls and bouts of food poisoning related issues, but were you aware that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also responsible for regulating the beauty industry as well? Unlike the food industry, the ingredients used for products you spread all over your face and body are not nearly under as much scrutiny as the ingredients you ingest. Cosmetic companies have free reign to incorporate any raw material or ingredient without so much as a glance from the FDA for any sort of review or approval. Suffice to say, many consumers are in the dark as to what they are truly slathering all over themselves, driven with the promise of a youthful and healthy appearance. Below are just a few examples of the additives you should be on the lookout for.
Formaldehyde. Sound familiar? More recognizable for preserving the dearly departed, it is used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was classified as a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) which we more commonly refer to as a substance that is capable of causing cancer.
Parabens. Parabens are yet another regularly used preservative that avert the development of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Parabens contain estrogen-imitating components that have been found to be associated with increased risk for breast cancer. These substances are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.
Synthetic colors. Take a look at your product label and identify FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colors. F — representing food and D&C representing drug and cosmetics. These synthetic colors are procured from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are believed to be another type of carcinogen and skin irritant.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). This compound can be located in a majority of personal care products. SLS’s routinely cause skin, lung, and eye irritations. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, yet another type of carcinogen. These mixtures can lead to a slew of other issues such as kidney and respiratory damage.
Toluene. A chemical extracted from petroleum or coal tar sources. You might also recognize it listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is a powerful solvent able to dissolve paint and paint thinner. It can wreak havoc on your respiratory system, cause nausea and be a skin irritant. Toluene has also been attributed to immune system toxicity.
Now that you’ve seen some of terrifying effects of what these toxic ingredients are capable of doing to your body, you might want to spend a few extra minutes dissecting those product labels the next time you take a trip down the beauty aisle.