The price of beauty may now include your health. Unlike food and drug manufacturers, the FDA doesn’t impose strict regulations on the cosmetic industry. Manufacturers use synthetic ingredients because they’re more cost-effective than their natural equivalents. Scientists report that chemicals in cosmetics can pass through your skin into your bloodstream and internal organs. Studies show they can disrupt hormones and cause long-term medical problems and health issues.
Lead in Lipstick Spreads Health Risks
Testing found that lipstick containing lead, a poisonous neurotoxin, can be detrimental to your health. You and whomever you kiss on the lips can swallow its toxins unintentionally. Lead is toxic to many organs and tissues including your heart, bones, intestines and kidneys plus your delicate reproductive and nervous systems. Review the FDA’s Analysis of Lead in Lipsticks to determine if your favorite is risky.
Consequences of Using Expired Mascara
According to a new study, when your mascara is over three months old, it probably contains infection-causing bacteria that increase your risk of pink eye and other inflammatory ophthalmic conditions. Researchers found staph bacteria contamination in 79 percent of the mascara samples they tested. They attributed the results to 86 percent of participants using mascara beyond three months. The tube’s moist, dark environment is ideal for bacterial proliferation.
Study participants also reported using eye pencils, eye shadow, lipstick or lip-gloss, foundation, concealer and face powder past their expiration dates. Mascara was the most common and most dangerous item they used too long. Because your eyes have open pores, glands and tear ducts, they’re vulnerable to infection. Study authors concluded that women should be most careful with eye makeup because it has a higher probability of causing irritation or infection when it contains contaminants.
How to Protect Your Eyes
The FDA doesn’t require cosmetics companies to list expiration dates on makeup, so germ expert Dr. Kelly Reynolds recommends tracking it yourself. When you open a new tube, schedule a three-month mascara replacement reminder in your smartphone. Sharing makeup can transmit germs, so keep your stuff to yourself, and use travel-sized tubes that run out faster.
Don’t store mascara in a damp bathroom that’s conducive to bacterial growth. If you wear contacts, you may transfer the fungus that can grow on your lenses to your mascara wand and the tube where it can flourish. Never apply mascara before putting your contact lenses in your eyes because bacteria from your makeup can grow more rapidly under contacts.
Health Hazards of Perfume
A University of Rochester study focused on perfume as a major source of phthalates, chemicals that disrupt your hormonal system. So your body will retain the scent, many perfumes contain a chemical agent that allows phthalates to seep into your skin. Urine tests showed that women who wore perfume in the previous 24 hours had a 2.9 times higher concentration of MEP, a phthalate that increases breast cancer risk. The MEP levels of women who used deodorant, nail polish or polish remover the day before the study were more than twice as high as those who didn’t.
Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t require the cosmetics industry to label products that contain phthalates. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, over 75 percent of Americans have detectable levels of phthalates in their systems. Protect yourself by avoiding scented products, especially tampons. Buy natural personal care items that don’t contain artificial fragrance.
Other Ingredients to Avoid
Coal tar: Research has linked coal tar in eye shadow to cancer. Lipsticks containing high levels of artificial colorings made from coal tar derivatives can cause allergic reactions. Avoid makeup containing FD&C color pigments because they may originate from coal tar too.
Formaldehyde: Many beauty products contain formaldehyde, the gas that preserves deceased bodies. Laurel sulfate may incorporate formaldehyde as a preservative. It may be an added ingredient even when it doesn’t appear on the label. For example, imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin may release formaldehyde, causing migraines, allergies and asthma.
Nitrosamine: Foundation makeup may include nitrosamine as a preservative. Some studies have associated it with increased cancer incidence.
Paraben: Nearly all skincare products contain parabens. Researchers have found a possible connection between paraben preservatives and breast cancer.
Propylene glycol: Manufacturers typically make this synthetic alcohol from petroleum. The natural form originates from corn. Industrial anti-freeze manufacturers use propylene glycol as an active ingredient and wetting agent. It may cause kidney and liver abnormalities plus damage cell membranes.
Talc: According to the Cancer Prevention Coalition, manufacturers produce this mineral by mining, crushing, drying and milling talc rocks. Processing eliminates numerous trace minerals but leaves minute fibers that are similar to asbestos. Scientists have linked talc particles to ovarian and lung cancer tumors. For oil absorption, choose alternatives such as mineral, cornstarch, baking soda or rice powders.
Become Label Savvy
How can you safeguard your beauty to preserve your health? Like reading food labels, make examining cosmetic ingredients a habit because they affect more than your skin’s surface. Health-conscious women can minimize their risks by switching to chemical- and metal-free organic makeup. According to makeup artist Lindsey Rivera, replacing all of your makeup at the same time can be overwhelming. She recommends starting with lipstick. Skip any with unfamiliar ingredients because they’re probably bad for you. If you develop any adverse symptoms from cosmetics, see your doctor immediately. Then save on medications by ordering from a reliable Canadian pharmacy.