According to findings from one study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), women living in the U.S use an average of 12 beauty products every day, containing nearly 200 chemicals, and it’s not always easy to know exactly what chemicals in beauty products you might find.
Chemicals are found in all type of cosmetics, skin care and personal care products, including makeup (lipstick, foundation and eye shadows), shampoos and other hair care products, body lotions and sunscreens.
As explained in an article published in The Guardian:
The US cosmetics and personal care industry is largely self-regulated. Since it first came under FDA purview in the 1930s, the industry has had only nine chemicals banned from use. More than 12,000 chemicals are approved for use today.
What chemicals should you avoid in beauty products? Potentially harmful chemicals in beauty products to steer clear of include:
These are among 20 contaminants that have been recently banned in California and Connecticut, two states pioneering efforts in the U.S. to clean up the beauty industry.
Believe it or not, more than 40 nations have stricter cosmetic safety regulations than the United States, including a mix of both industrialized and developing nations. That’s not very surprising considering that the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act hasn’t been changed since it was originally enacted in 1938.
There are an estimated 1,400 chemicals that have been used in beauty products in the past that are now banned in more than 40 countries. However, the U.S mostly lags behind, only having banned nine chemicals due to potentially dangerous effects, as well as some additional pesticides, narcotics and radioactive substances.
Recently, in response to growing concerns over their potential health impact, legislators in California banned chemicals in beauty products. New legislation will outlaw the use of 20 chemicals and contaminants that are considered the most dangerous among those used in cosmetics.
This makes California the first U.S. state to prohibit the use of these hazardous ingredients in the personal care industry. As Sen. Connie Leyva, who authored the bill, said, “SB 312 which will ensure that consumers in California know what ingredients are in the beauty and personal care products they bring home to their families and use on their bodies.”
A Connecticut state senator also introduced legislation that will hold cosmetic manufacturers to the same strict standards as those put forth by the EU.
According to recent findings, what chemicals in cosmetics are dangerous? Chemicals now banned in California for use in beauty, skin and hair care products include:
These chemicals have already been banned by the European Union, and by many other nations, but continue to be used in the U.S. legally.
What are the most toxic beauty products? Here is a list of some harmful chemicals in beauty products that may be threatening your health right now:
Other potentially harmful compounds found in personal care products include:
Why are chemicals in beauty products bad for you? The majority of commercially produced beauty and skin products contain multiple artificial colors, fragrances, preservatives and stabilizers that can easily be absorbed through the skin’s pores.
Some experts, although not all, believe that the use of chemicals on the body may be linked to health concerns including:
That said, according to health authorities in the U.S., including the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is not conclusive whether exposure to small amounts of chemicals in beauty products is a real concern.
They also cannot say for sure what harmful effects might result from slathering on a “cocktail” of different chemicals each day, which might turn out to be worse than use of only one contaminant.
The real issue seems to be that the U.S. lacks regulation over the cosmetic and beauty industry. The FDA does not require cosmetic products and ingredients to gain approval before they go to market, which increases the risk for contaminants such as asbestos and heavy metals to make their way into makeup, lotions and other products. (One example: Recently asbestos was found in dangerous children’s makeup products sold in the U.S. at Claire’s stores.)
While it’s a good idea to start paying closer attention to the products you use directly on your skin, there isn’t need to panic. Even an attorney for the EWG admitted, “Most ingredients used in our day-to-day life are probably pretty safe.”
Although many chemicals can still be legally added to beauty products in the U.S., a number of major retailers, including CVS Health, Target, Rite Aid and Walgreens, have committed to restricting the use of many chemicals in their own cosmetic brands in the future.
If you’d like to take steps to avoid putting harmful chemicals in beauty products on your skin, you can try these natural skin care alternatives instead: