Cosmetics can do a lot of harm to the skin, animals and the environment. Most of the products on the market contain polluting ingredients, derived from animals and harmful to those who use them. Allergies and contact dermatitis are also on the rise due to cosmetics, among the main culprits together with household cleaning products, and irritations are not even the greatest risk to health because, among the substances under accusation, there are even carcinogens or endocrine disruptors that alter the hormonal system as reported by the New York Times.
Finding your way around the world of cosmetics is not easy, because the offer is really vast. The only way to make informed purchases? Learn to read theINCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients), the nomenclature used internationally to identify the ingredients present in a cosmetic product as they are indicated on the label.
The hidden dangers behind cosmetic products
All cosmetic products, from foundation to face powder, contain a large number of chemicals, some of which can even be dangerous to our health. The way certain chemicals in cosmetics interact with our skin can lead to dryness, flaking or even severe allergic reactions.
But what matters most is the fact that these chemicals are able to penetrate the deeper layers of our skin and enter our bloodstream. If these products turn out to be toxic, then chronic exposure to them would pose a significant health risk.
What are the harmful ingredients in cosmetics?
- Cadmium: a light bluish-white metal that studies have linked to kidney failure, bone disease, and even cancer. Researchers believe cadmium becomes toxic already at levels well below the limits set by the World Health Organization.
- Toluene: an enamel thinner that could damage the nervous system and lead to neurological disorders such as dementia. Toluene is found in various nail products as well as some hair dyes.
- Benzophenones: used in products such as foundation to protect themselves from UV rays. An article published in an allergy journal claims that benzophenones can cause allergic reactions such as skin rashes and even anaphylactic shock. Benzophenones are found in cocoa butter, foundation, nail polish, perfumes, shampoos, conditioners, hairspray and baby sunscreens.
- Parabens: These chemicals are added to cosmetics to prevent excessive growth of bacteria. Parabens are potential endocrine inhibitors, and one study even found the presence of these chemicals in cancerous breast tissue, raising concerns about them. Parabens are commonly used in perfumes and cologne, but can also be found in shower gels, shampoos, conditioners and lotions.
- Lead: a heavy metal found in a large number of make-up products, especially those with a greater number of pigments such as foundation, eyeshadow, lipstick and eyeliner. Lead is highly toxic when it enters the bloodstream and has been labeled as a cause of neurological disorders as well as infertility and cancer. Lead is most commonly found in lip products including, lipsticks, lip glosses, and pencils. It is also found in hair dye, mascara, eye shadow, blush, and foundation.
- Talc: a mineral used in powder make-up, such as powder foundation and blush, as well as in liquid foundation. There have been many studies that have linked talcum powder to ovarian cancer, according to an article published in theEuropean Journal of Cancer Prevention. Talc is best known for being present in baby powders, but also in deodorants, feminine intimate hygiene products, powder and foundation eyeshadows, lipsticks and face masks.
4 tips to make no mistake
- A visit to the dermatologist is useful to check the condition of your skin. The skin changes over time and the cream you use today may not necessarily be suitable even in a few months or a few years. With the advice of the specialist you can determine which active ingredients you need to look for in your cosmetic.
- Check the price / quality ratio. The most expensive cream is not always the best for you. In all cosmetics you will find theINCI in descending order. If in the first few lines you identify the presence of quality substances, you are already well advanced. In this regard, remember that inINCI the names of the synthetic ingredients are written in English, while the natural ones are in Latin.
- Before you buy, try it. If a new cosmetic intrigues you, but you are not sure of its action on your skin, you can ask for a sample at the points of sale. Often you can also find them attached to magazines.
- Buy large packs only if you are sure to use all the product in a reasonable time (check the PAO, period after opening, that is the period of time in which the opened cosmetic maintains all its characteristics). On products with a shelf life of less than 30 months you will also find the hourglass symbol with a date.