Healthy and Unhealthy Beauty Products
Healthy and Unhealthy Environmental Beauty Products
by Kimberley Graham
Shopping for your favorite beauty product and wondering if what you are buying is safe and free from health risks? There are a number of ingredients commonly used in beauty products that are known to have negative impacts on human health. In Europe, there are 1,328 substances that are completely banned from cosmetics, while in the United States there are only 20 banned substances.
So what are some of these substances and why are they harmful to human health? Here are a few:
Talc: Is a clay mineral with a soft texture and ability to absorb moisture makes this substance a popular product in cosmetics. However, it has often been associated with Asbestos, a cancer causing substance. Talc may soon be banned in the U.S. but in the meantime look for products that contain natural alternatives such as: oat flour, rice flour, baking soda or tapioca powder.
Coal Tar: A colourant used in dyes for eyeshadows and mascaras. Coal tar has been linked to cancer, allergic reactions, and several diseases and disorders. Alternatives include natural pigments from berries, tea and cocoa.
Formaldehyde: A preservative and known human carcinogen found in nearly one-fifth of all U.S. cosmetics on the market. It can be disguised as: DMDM hydantoin; Imidazolidinyl urea; Diazolidinyl urea; Quaternium-15; Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol) ; 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane; Hydroxymethylglycinate. Healthier alternatives include Vitamin E, certain essential oils (tea tree and grapefruit) and grapefruit seed extract.
DEA, TEA, MEA: Ammonia compounds Diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA), and triethanolamine (TEA) are used as foaming agents and emulsifiers in a range of cosmetics including makeup, shampoo, sunscreen and hair dye. Studies show links with cancer, organ and neural system toxicity, as well as skin irritation. Natural ingredients like beeswax, vegetable wax, soapwort and lecithin from plant sources are safer alternatives.
On the ethical and cutely free point, the European Union banned animal testing for all cosmetics and their ingredients. While in the U.S., only the states of California, New Jersey, New York and Virginia prohibit testing cosmetics and personal care items on animals, but only where an alternative exists.