Our skin, the largest organ in our bodies. The place where we lather, scrub and apply a wide selection of skincare and cosmetics. We believe these products essential, but are chemicals in beauty products dangerous? How concerned should we be?
Depending on where you live, some countries are more relaxed on chemical regulations. Breast Cancer UK, states that despite the EU’s strict chemical regulation rules, many cosmetic and skincare products contain endocrine disrupting chemicals. These are harmful to body hormones, even at low levels.
For those in America, Time.com has highlighted that health-related complaints on cosmetic products are at a record high, yet there’s no legal obligation for cosmetic manufactures to report these health claims to the FDA.
Marketing claims and acne
The beauty industry is growing in the billions, with celebrities now taking a huge slice of the profit. There are numerous brands out there, with teams of marketing genius’s ready to convince us that their items are saviours. Particularly so, with acne.
When my skin erupted at aged 12, I picked up every over-the-counter remedy possible. My mother bought me drug-store products, eventually switching to high-end treatment. My skin became greasier and more spots appeared. When I had no luck at the doctor’s, I felt judged.
The women behind the cosmetic counters, would patronisingly stare. They would tell me I just need to try their ranges, as though their brand had a secret fix. The fact is, regardless of how much you splurge, you can find the same chemicals in luxury beauty products, as you can in cheaper options. Money doesn’t necessarily grant a miracle.
Chemicals linked to breast cancer
As mentioned before with endocrine disrupting chemicals affecting hormones, there’s evidence and suggestion that chemicals in beauty products may link to cancer. Of course, in the world of scare-mongering news, just about everything potentially links.
Back in April, a man won $117 million, over claims that Johnson’s baby powder gave him cancer. Due to several legal cases popping up, talcum powder has been in the news and questioned over its safety. It makes me wonder, if other people stepped forward and made similar claims about chemicals found in other beauty products, would the safety of harsh chemicals be brought to light?
What chemicals should we avoid?
Safecosmetics.org, has a detailed guide on popular chemicals to avoid, including the health concerns and labels to look out for.
I’ll never forget my discussion with a dermatologist when working on a skincare counter. She said, “companies check their ingredients to make sure they are all safe together, but they don’t check whether their ingredients match with different deodorants, shampoo’s and moisturisers.”
Like most people, I’m knowledgeable about not wanting to put on sulphates, parabens or fragrances. SLS is a highly widespread sulphate (check your beauty items – it’s probably second on the ingredients list) which helps to make products foam. I’ve been taught by a skin expert, that SLS is highly irritating and non-beneficial to skin, yet the beauty industry tries to teach us that foaming is a good thing.
So, is natural the way forward?
Nasty chemicals are typically cheap and easy to bulk in product. They are usually hidden amongst names that everyday people wouldn’t recognise. Because these chemicals are found everywhere, we as consumers become accustom to expecting no less. It’s normal to see a dozen ingredients in one product, with names we don’t understand.
A simple example of how accustom we are, is to take toner. You might have purchased a toner before, on the basis that it brings your pH level back down after cleansing. What you’re not told, is that not all cleansers screw up your pH in the first place.
Clean beauty has become an almost buzzword in the market. Social-media has helped this trend, with people waking up and realising they want healthier products, with sustainable packaging. Glamour published an article with a beauty director, on everything to know about the clean beauty movement.
It makes sense that natural is better for us. When trying to find good natural products, pay little attention to advertisement words. The ingredients list provides what you need to know. It’s worthwhile researching the actual brands about page to see how they back-up ‘natural’, ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘organic’ claims.
I tend to find items directly targeting themselves as cruelty-free, often make a point of not adding harmful or harsh skin ingredients. I’ve recently been experimenting with vegan beauty and have fallen in love with the texture and smells of vegan products. Particularly Noughty To The Rescue hair mask.
Chemicals in beauty products – makeup and female care
Safecosmetics.org, is again a recommended site to find out what’s really in your makeup kit. I don’t believe that foundation or items for your complexion, are to blame for breakouts (unless you don’t remove properly). However, considering liquids and powders are sat on your skin all day, it surely impacts skin badly if they are filled with toxic chemicals.
Men are usually told to buy a mere handful of products. They can easily have their shampoo and body wash in a 2 in 1. Women on the other hand, we need 20 moisturisers to beat ageing. If brands had it their way, we would have arm lotions and leg potions. We would pick up a body part cream on a weekly basis.
I’ve worked in the cosmetic and beauty industry – I’ve seen first-hand the tricks used to get customers to buy. Like the pharmacy business, beauty brings in a huge income. We’ve spent year’s listening and trusting the words of brands – fully accepting that we need their patented formulas to look good. Maybe now is the time more of us strike back, and open our eyes to chemicals in beauty products.
How do you feel about chemicals? Do you try to buy natural products when possible, and do you think more needs doing to ensure packaging is clear about what in the ingredients?