There’s a direct correlation between what you put on your skin being absorbed into your body. This is something one might find hard to believe, but researches over the years have confirmed that this statement is true.
- 1,4-Dioxane: Found in products such as shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath. It a carcinogen ingredient linked to organ toxicity, may be found in as many as 22 percent of the more than 25,000 cosmetics products in the Skin Deep database. Generated through a process called ethoxylation, in which ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen, is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh. Environmental Working Group’s analysis suggests that 97 percent of hair relaxers, 57 percent of baby soaps and 22 percent of all products in Skin Deep may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.
- Acrylates (ethyl acrylate, ethyl methacrylate, and methyl methacrylate): Today, we see women flock to the nail salons and polish their nails with gel polish as it is simpler and less expensive. Gel nail polish contain toxic chemicals, its remover also has risks. Moreover, the lights used to dry the gel polish may cause skin cancer.Despite evidence of adverse skin, eye, and throat reactions to these chemicals, they continue to be used in nail products. Besides, toxic chemicals in gel polish cause allergic contact dermatitis in nearly 50% of users. Considering the corrosive and skin sensitizing properties of ethyl methacrylate and methyl methacrylate, the Methacrylate Producers Association, Inc. has stated that these chemicals are not appropriate for artificial nail products
- Benzophenone: Found in lip balm, nail polish, foundations, baby sunscreens, fragrance, shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, moisturizers, and foundation to protect from UV light. Derivatives of benzophenone, such as benzophenone-2 (BP2) and oxybenzone (benzophenone-3 or BP3) are common ingredients in sunscreen. Benzophenone is persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). Some studies indicate that benzophenone has little estrogenic activity. However, studies of benzophenone in juvenile female rats conclude that benzophenone s not estrogenic itself, but may become estrogenic when it is metabolized by the body into other chemicals (for instance, the benzophenone metabolite p-hydrosybenzophenone is estrogenic). Studies in adult rats show that benzophenones that are metabolized can exhibit estrogenic activities.
- Carbon Black: A dark black powder used as a pigment in cosmetics to make eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. It is produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-based products such as coal tar, and has been linked to increased incidence of cancer and negative effects on organs. Commercial carbon black, in particular, has organic contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have been identified as human carcinogens. PAHs damage DNA, and exposure to PAHs can lead to tumors on lungs, bladder and skin; and PAHs can also cause non-cancer toxicities like reproductive and developmental toxicity.
- Homosalate: A widely used chemical in sunscreens and skin care products with SPF. It is a potential endocrine disruptor and studies in cells suggest it may impact hormones. In addition to direct health concerns following homosalate exposure, the chemical may also enhance the absorption of pesticides in the body. It is an organic compound that belongs to a class of chemicals called salicylates. Salicylates prevent direct skin exposure to the sun’s harmful rays by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) light. Homosalate specifically absorbs short-wave UVB rays, which are associated with DNA damage and increased risk of skin cancer.
- Hydroquinone: Found in skin lighteners, facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturizers, hair conditioners, finger nail coating products. It is linked to cancer and organ-system toxicity. Hydroquinone works by decreasing the production and increasing the degradation of melanin pigments in the skin. This increases the skin’s exposure to UVA and UVB rays, increasing the risk of skin cancer. Hydroquinone is linked to a skin condition called ochronosis in which the skin (our largest organ) thickens and turns bluish-grey. Exposure of the eye can cause pigmentation and permanent corneal damage. Hydroquinone may be harmful if inhaled, causing irritation of the nose, throat and upper respiratory tract. A study on occupational exposure of hydroquinone showed that subjects exposed to hydroquinone had a higher prevalence of a cough and decreased lung capacity compared to their unexposed counterparts.
- Mica: A naturally occurring mineral dust. It is used in makeup foundations. Workers in cosmetic manufacturing factories are at high risk of mica exposure through inhalation. It has reflective properties, allowing for a shimmery effect in mineral foundations. Long term inhalation of mica poses a health risk to workers, specifically those working in muscovite (the most common form of mica) mills and other occupations such as agriculture and construction work. Long-term inhalation of mica dust may cause lung scarring which leads to symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss.
- Octinoxate, also called Octyl methoxycinnamate or (OMC), is found in hair color products and shampoos, sunscreen, lipstick, nail polish, skin creams as a UV filter. It can be absorbed rapidly through skin. Octinoxate has been detected in human urine, blood and breast milk, which indicates that humans are systemically exposed to this compound. Octinoxate is an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen and can disrupt thyroid function.
- PABA (P-aminobenzoic acid) and PABA Derivatives: An ingredient in hair color products and shampoo, sunscreen, lipstick, nail polish, skin creams. It is commonly used in sunscreens as ultraviolet B (UVB) filters. PABA use has declined over the years, but its derivatives are still around today. PABA may alter thyroid activity. In a study conducted on thyroid tissue samples, researchers found that PABA inhibited thyroxine the primary hormone secreted by the thyroid gland that regulates metabolism. Decreased levels of thyroxine may lead to hypothyroidism which includes symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and muscle weakness.
- Retinol: Found in anti-aging creams and lotions, moisturizers, and foundation. It is the chemical name of the essential micronutrient vitamin A which can be harmful to your health when it’s added to cosmetic products in certain forms. Two derivatives – retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate – should be avoided in cosmetics and personal care products while retinol itself should not be used at high doses. Some retinol derivatives have been suggested as anticancer agents mainly for their effects on cellular differentiation and growth suppression. However, despite some promising laboratory and early clinical evidence for retinol and its derivatives in cancer treatment and prevention, several more recent large-scale trials have so far failed to show therapeutic benefit. Retinoids degrade in light, which is why most dermatologists recommend nighttime application.
The American Cancer Society continues to encourage research on the safety and efficacy of products containing these ingredients.