Most of us try to go green in as many facets of our lives as we can – we use CFL light bulbs, we buy organic clothing, and we recycle. However, how often do you look at your beauty products and check how you can be greener in that aspect? Here is a list of harmful chemicals that are currently used in skincare, hair care, makeup, and fragrances. I will warn you; this list will give you pause. You will most likely find that a lot of your beauty products have these chemicals as ingredients!
1. Acrylic Acid. This is a respiratory toxin for humans and can cause asthma and severe skin burns. In animals, it causes renal and kidney damage and blood and skin tumors.
2. Aluminum. This is a strong human neurotoxicant. It causes irritation of the eyes, skin, and lungs. It is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. In animals, it has been shown to cause birth disorders.
3. Amyl Acetate. This is a neurotoxin and is an eye and lung irritant.
4. Benzalkonium Chloride. This is an immune system, lung, and skin toxicant. It can trigger asthma, and is restricted in Canada and Japan.
5. Benzyl Alcohol. This strong neurotoxicant can cause allergic reactions in the lungs. It can cause liver damage, coma, and death in animals.
6. Boric Acid. This is a strong reproductive toxin. It is unsafe to use on infants or damaged skin. In animals, it causes birth defects and death! It is banned in Canada and Japan.
7. D&C Red 30 Lake. This is a strong nervous system toxicant. It disrupts the endocrine system and is linked to breast and ovarian cancer. It is also a persistent wildlife contaminant.
8. Dibutyl Phthalate. This is a neurotoxicant that is linked to impaired fertility and urinary abnormalities and breast and ovarian cancers.
9. Ethylparaben. This is another skin and eye irritant that is linked to breast and ovarian cancer. It is also an environmental contaminant.
10. FD&C Blue 1. This is derived from coal tar and is linked to allergies and hyperactivity disorder.
11. FD&C Yellow 6. In animals, it causes coma, convulsions, testicular damage, and changes in leucocytes. It cannot be used in eye cosmetics.
12. Formaldehyde. This is another human carcinogen linked to leukemia, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, liver cancer, and long cancer. It is banned in Canada and Japan. However, it was determined safe for use in cosmetics in the US.
13. Lactic Acid. In animals, it causes changes in the liver, brain, and blood. It also caused mutations and birth defects (in animals). It is restricted in Canada.
14. Phenol. This is a strong respiratory irritant. It causes skin burns, kidney damage, and cyanosis in humans. In animals (at very low doses), it causes skin cancer, birth defects, and brain and nervous system damage. It is banned in Canada, restricted in Japan, and is permitted in the US.
15. Resorcinol. This is a strong skin irritant. In animals, it is linked to adenomas. In humans, it is suspected to trigger skin cancer.
If there is something to learn from this list (and this is just a small list of chemicals – there are many more out there), it is that we need to pay attention to what we put on our skin. We need to find products that are safe for the environment and safe for us too!
Douglas Michaels Jr. writes educational articles for Green Earth News, the authority on everything Bamboo.
Photo. Sicha Pongjivanich