Most of the skin care products being marketed with aggressive promotional campaigns through print or electronic media do not mention the ingredients. But consumers need to satisfy themselves that the products they buy do not pose health risks. Here are five common ingredients which are potentially harmful for skin and body, knowing which will help consumers to make more intelligent and conscious choices.
US researchers have found that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products are less-than-safe industrial chemicals. Many of these are carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers and surfactants – quite a dreadful scenario.
i) Parabens: Used in makeup, moisturizers, lotions, might interfere with hormone functions, though these help increase the shelf life of the products. Paramens easily penetrate the skin and can harmfully mimic estrogen. EU restricts concentration of parabens in cosmetics.
ii) DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA: These compounds are used to make cosmetics creamy or foaming such as moisturizer, shampoo. Also found in soaps, cleansers. These can cause mild to moderate skin and eye irritation; high doses are known to cause serious health damage. Danish Environmental Protection Agency classifies cocamide DEA as hazardous to the environment because of its acute toxicity.
iii) DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate): Used mostly in nail products as a solvent for dyes and as a plasticizer that prevents nail polishes from becoming brittle. DBP is absorbed through skin. Phthalates are commonly hidden on ingredient labels under the term ‘fragrance’, and fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets, not obliging manufacturers to disclose fragrance chemicals on labels. The European Union classifies DBP as very toxic to aquatic organisms.
iv) BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene): These closely related synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers are capable of interfering with hormone function, and can induce allergic reactions in skin.
v) Coal Tar Dyes: Mostly used in hair dyes and colors; can be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to brain. Darker hair dyes tend to contain more phenylenediamine than lighter colors. These colors may as well be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and some are combined with aluminium substate.