All You Need to Know: Makeup Chemicals That Cause Cancer

The beauty, cosmetics and makeup industries are unregulated. What does that mean? They can and they will break the rules. And if they won’t break the rules they will remodel and adapt the rules according to their commercial needs and visions. In the UK, companies could only drop the word ‘Organic’ on the label if the product has 95% organic material; however, they will use the word Organic or Natural even if only as little as 70% is organic and whatever is left can be harmful chemicals. Imagine mixing freshly squeezed natural juices in the attempt of creating a powerful healthy drink, but also pouring alcohol in the mix. No matter how healthy the fruit juices may be, the drink is still going to be a cocktail, and not just a mocktail.

If the US FDA Regulations finds an ingredient that is not necessarily harmful for human use, it will be classified under GRAS or ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’. The ‘G’ in GRAS doesn’t really sound appealing, as ‘generally safe’ isn’t a certainty. What if, generally, a product has no harmful effects; however one person in a thousand people applies it on sensitive skin, they have a reaction and discover they are a particular exception to the ‘general’. Now, they have to face its toxic consequences at a high cost… But what if that one person is you? There should be no room for particular cases in a circumstance where health and safety is concerned. There should be no risks for the sake of beauty, while there are so many options on the market… But there are; and the risks are numberless. And now, the question remains: How can we avoid them and prevent disease? The first step is recognizing the names of the top substances to avoid. The second step is reading labels; read labels on the products you currently own and just before buying them, as you might be causing yourself problems that cannot be covered up in makeup. We all know the infamous word Parabens and that we must run away from it, but there are plenty of more equally harmful and equally common toxic chemicals to avoid. We’ve investigated, and created a list with few of the most common ones below:

1. Cadmium, Lead and other Heavy Metals

Which Makeup Has It: Lip Products, Eye Shadows, Blush, Concealer, Foundations.

Brands Found Using It: Maybelline, L’Oreal, Nars. 

What to look for on the label: Lead acetate, chromium, thimerosal, hydrogenated cotton seed oil, sodium hexametaphosphate.

Health Concerns: Cadmium is a carcinogen that has been found in breast cancer biopsies and shown to cause cancer cells to multiply in lab experiments. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys and nervous systems. Cancer Research UK has said that a study conducted in 2011 on 400 lipsticks ‘found very low levels of lead and the FDA does not believe these levels are harmful. However, according to this article on findings by Duke University researchers clearly explains how there is NO safe amount of lead.

2. Ethanolamine Compounds

Which Makeup Has It: Eyeliners, Mascara, Eye shadows, Blush, Make-up bases, Foundations.

Brands Found Using It: Cover Girl, Maybelline New York, Neutrogena, Revlon.

What to look for on the label: Triethanolamine, diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate.

Health Concerns: May increase risk of cancer especially with prolonged and repeated use; bio-accumulation, organ system toxicity.

3. Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde releasing Preservatives 

Which Makeup Has It: Color cosmetics, Eyelash Glue, Nail Polish.

Brands Found Using It: Orly, Spa Rituals.

What to look for on the label: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol)

Health Concerns: Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic impurity released by the above mentioned cosmetic preservatives. Banned in Sweden and Japan.

4. Octinoxate

Which Makeup Has It: Lipsticks, Nail Polish.

Brands Found Using It: Avon, Rimmel.

What to look for on the label: Octinoxate,o methoxycinnamate (OMC), parsol, parsol MCX, parsol MOX, escalol, 2-ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate

Health concerns: Endocrine disruption, persistence and bioaccumulation, ecotoxicology, organ system toxicity.

And for the alarming truth:

1. The average woman wears nearly 515 chemicals a day.

2. She will eat nearly 4 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime.

3. Her skin absorbs 60% of every chemical she applies.

Chemical cocktail or nourishing mocktail, our skin absorbs it. Our skin is a living organ and the products we apply on our bodies and faces don’t just wash off and disappear from our systems. They become a part of us. Would you want Formaldehyde to be a part of you? I know I wouldn’t.