Are Your Cosmetics Safe?


Rêve de Miel® - Ultra-Nourishing Lip BalmCosmetics pamper us. They make us feel beautiful. Many women cherish the time spent applying cosmetics; putting on lipstick and slathering on lotions makes them feel luxurious. Makeup and skin care products make us feel we are taking care of ourselves in a special way. Yet many cosmetic products contain dangerous ingredients. Below, we list three unhealthy ingredients commonly found in cosmetics.

1. Lead

While many women have heard the rumor that many lipsticks contain lead, few realize that independent and FDA studies have verified that this urban legend is true. Lead is a neurotoxin that builds up in the body over time. Research suggests that lead poisoning contributes to lowered IQ, increased aggression and diminished school performance. Considering that most women wear lipstick on a daily basis, the potential for lead poisoning is very real.

You may be aware of lead’s toxicity thanks to public education campaigns on lead-based paints. The EPA regulates renovation activities to prevent lead exposure, which is especially threatening to young children, whose brains are still developing. Yet because the FDA does not conduct pre-market testing for cosmetics, lipstick manufacturers are not prevented from putting lead in their products. Fortunately, a few manufacturers now offer lead-free lipsticks.

If you’re looking for a luscious, safe product to nourish your lips following years of lead-filled lipsticks, look no further than Reve de Miel ultra-nourishing lip balm from Nuxe Paris. Safe enough for children aged 36 months and up, this Nuxe Paris product uses grapefruit peel oil as a preservative rather than parabens – which, as explained below, may cause cancer.

2. Parabens

Manufacturers add parabens to extend makeup’s shelf life. Cosmetic producers prefer parabens over more natural preservative ingredients because parabens are very inexpensive to create. All parabens used in commercial products are synthetically created in laboratories. Until recently, they were assumed to be benign.

The presence of parabens in breast tumors suggests otherwise. Molecular biologist Philippa Darbre, a the lead researcher of a paraben breast cancer study in the UK, points out that the form of parabens found in tumor samples suggests that parabens enter the body through the skin via deodorants, body sprays and creams. Up to 60 percent of breast cancers occur in the section of the breast nearest the armpit – exactly where paraben-laden antiperspirants are applied. No studies have actually found a causal link between cancer and parabens, so the FDA has not restricted their use. However, given that virtually no research has been done on the effect of long-term paraben exposure, many women have chosen to avoid products that contain these preservative synthetics. 

Parabens pose other health risks, as well. For instance, individuals with sensitive skin may experience allergic reactions to parabens. Neurological and developmental disorders may also be linked to parabens.

Thousands of products, from toothpaste to skin cream, contain parabens. Still, with a little legwork, you can find paraben-free options. Label reading is a key habit to acquire. Look for any ingredients that end in paraben – ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, and methylparaben are a few examples.

Some manufacturers advertise the fact that their products do not contain parabens. For instance, Tonific Deodorant by Nuxe Paris is free of all allergens, including parabens. Many spa owners adore Bliss’ Lemon + Sage Body Butter, which contains no parabens. Indeed, Bliss has vowed to eliminate all parabens from its skin care products. On the makeup end of things, BECCA Cosmetics’ Sheer Tint Lip Colors are free of parabens. Or, if you’re simply looking for a way to even out your skin tone, BECCA Cosmetics’ Compact Concealer is a good paraben-free choice.

3. Formaldehyde

The U.S. National Toxicology Program has determined formaldehyde to be a human carcinogen, yet many products still contain it. When you read labels, look for formalin, which is formaldehyde dissolved in water. Manufacturers add formalin and other formaldehyde-based substances to prevent the growth of bacteria in their products. It is not unusual to find formaldehyde derivatives in hair straigtheners and nail polish. BECCA Cosmetics’ Top Coat Nail polish is free of formaldehyde, as are many other beauty products.

While lead, parabens and formaldehyde are some of the most dangerous chemicals found in cosmetics, they are by no means the only noxious ingredients in makeup. Those who seek to use products free of nasty chemicals must continually educate themselves on this complicated issue.