We love our cosmetic products, be it a cleanser, toner, moisturiser, toner or shampoo & conditioner or that foundation, lipstick and more, we just cannot live without them, but do you know some of your favourite cosmetic products can contain some potentially dangerous ingredients, that are doing more harm to you than good.  A shocking fact for you is that European Union has banned 1300 chemicals used in skincare ingredients and that number is only in two digits in our country.

Let’s check out the list of 5 categories of ingredients that your cosmetic products can contain and you should definitely watch out for:

Parabens :

Quite often our cosmetic products contain ingredients, that are biodegradable, so preservatives are needed to stop that and extend the shelf life of products, since 1920’s, parabens are one of the most commonly used preservatives used in the cosmetic products. Some of the commonly used paraben types are ethylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isopropyl parabens and isobutyl parabens.

Parabens are absorbed into the body through the skin, when we apply the products and then these are metabolized and excreted in urine and bile. The main concern with parabens is that once they are absorbed into the body some of them potentially act like hormones, especially, estrogen, the female hormone.

Parabens have the potential to disturb hormonal activity, disturb the reproductive development of both male and female individuals, fertility and birth outcomes. Parabens also can irritate your skin and have the potential to cause cancer.

Ethanolamine (DEA, TEA, MEA) :

Ethanolamine is used in cosmetics as pH adjuster [ pH (potential of hydrogen) is a scale to assess acidity or basicity of any material and it ranges from 0 to 14] In cosmetics Ethanolamine is widely used to neutralize fatty acids to form speciality soaps and because of its emulsive properties, they are also extensively used in detergents and polishes to improve their efficacy.

The concern with Ethanolamine is that, even though in permissible limits, Ethanolamine is safe to use in cosmetics, if used in formulations with other preservatives that can break down into nitrates, nitrosamines can be formed in these formulations. Nitrosamines are carcinogens, i.e., cancer-causing substances.

The ingredients that you need to watch out for include Monoethanolamine, 2-aminoethanol, MEA, stearamide MEA, and 2-aminoethyl alcohol, DEA and TEA.

Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP) :

Phthalates ( pronounced as tha-lates) are present in lot of different kinds of products, from food products, cosmetics to Baby products, including lotions, shampoos, powders and teethers and toys, building materials, including vinyl flooring, wallpaper, paint etc., and in scented products such as candles, in detergents, air fresheners, art supplies and more.,

There are a lot of different types of phthalates and some are known carcinogens and hazardous chemicals, such as di( 2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG compounds) :

PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture carriers. PEGs are commonly used as cosmetic cream bases. They are also used in pharmaceuticals as laxatives. Depending on the manufacturing process, PEG compounds can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, and both of these are known carcinogens.

Formaldehyde Releasers (Quaternium, diazolidinyl urea, DMD hydantoin) :

In cosmetics, Formaldehydes can be added directly or can be added indirectly by Formaldehyde releasers, some of the chemicals that can release formaldehydes include, Glyoxal,Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate,DMDM Hydantoin,Imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and polyoxymethylene urea,Bromopol.

Formaldehydes are known carcinogens and can cause skin irritation and cancer.

Conclusion:

When moving to new cosmetic products, it is always wise to check out the ingredients list and watch out for any ingredients that can be harmful, be it causing skin irritation to things that can cause cancer.

This article is medically reviewed by our expert dermatologist, Dr Nagakeerthana Sunder, M.D. DVL

References:

  1. https://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/0835.pdf
  2. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/parabens-cosmetics
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