All Ingredients To Avoid In Cosmetics
For our personal hygiene and beauty treatments, we apply numerous cosmetic products to our bodies every day.
These are composed of a set of ingredients, some natural, others from the chemical industry. Among these, some have potentially deleterious effects on our health. Here are some of those substances that are safer to avoid.
Composition Of Our Cosmetics
When we look at the list of ingredients in our cosmetics, it is clear that many products, with often obscure names, constitute them. We generally find:
- an aqueous part, in the form of water, juice, or hydrosol;
- fatty substances: inorganic, such as mineral oils and waxes from the petrochemical industry, synthetic forms of silicone, or plant: oils and butter from various plants;
- an emulsifier, to mix these two parts, which are normally immiscible;
- active ingredients, up to 1% in general, chosen for their properties and
- additives: dyes, preservatives, fragrances, antioxidants, structuring agents, etc.
No less than 82,000 different substances are used to formulate cosmetic products. Among these, some present risks to the environment and have harmfulness, suspected or proven, to the organism.
Preservatives To Avoid In Cosmetics
Preservatives are added to cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mold.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde liberators
The use of formaldehyde (or formalin) was very widespread in cosmetology; it is now replaced by the use of other preservatives.
The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) has effectively classified it as a human carcinogen by inhalation, and this product is also identified as a powerful allergen and an irritant.
Prohibited in aerosols, its use remains authorized in other cosmetics but is subject to various constraints. Its concentration should not exceed :
0.2% in most products;
0.1% in oral hygiene products;
5% in products to harden the nails.
One also finds in the ingredients of cosmetic products the “liberators of formaldehyde”, which, under certain conditions, progressively release this compound.
These are quaternium-15, imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, dimethylol dimethyl hydantoin, and bronopol (2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol).
The quantity of formaldehyde released must not exceed the threshold concentrations previously indicated.
Present in 80% of cosmetics, parabens are the substances mainly used to replace formaldehyde, but they are also in the hot seat and many cosmetics advertise “paraben-free” as a selling point.
There are different types of parabens, including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
They are responsible for allergies and some, with a chemical structure with a long chain (propylparaben and butylparaben), disrupt the reproductive and endocrine system. They are suspected of promoting the development of breast cancer.
For example, in toothpaste, disinfectant products for the hands (hydroalcoholic gels), soaps, shower gels, products against acne (clear covering sticks, intimate care products, shaving foams, creams, moisturizers, deodorants, etc. This chemical preservative:
It is a possible endocrine disruptor “suspected of acting on the endocrine system, triggering breast cancer, damaging sperm, causing resistance to antibiotics and affecting the liver” (source: “Triclosan: closer than one does not think”, ECOSCOPE, 2014);
It interferes with the functioning of the muscles, and, in particular, the heart muscles.
In pregnant women, this exposure could contaminate the fetus with consequences for neuronal development. A link has been made between this exposure of the fetuses, especially in the first weeks.
It is considered irritating to the skin and eyes, with an increased incidence of food and skin allergies;
It is responsible for inflammation of the intestines and accelerating the development of colon cancer.
It is harmful to the environment, particularly aquatic environments.
Be careful, triclosan has various names behind which it hides, in particular: Irgasan DP-300, Lexol 300, Ster-Zac, or Cloxifenolum (triclocarban is a derivative of triclosan).
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are antioxidants used as preservatives in many cosmetics (lipsticks, moisturizing lotions, etc.), to prevent fatty substances from going rancid.
They are responsible for allergic skin reactions, are potentially carcinogenic for humans, according to the IARC, and are endocrine disruptors for BHA.
EDTA (Ethylene Diamine Tetra Acetic
Used as a stabilizer in cosmetics, especially in soap, EDTA is a heavy metal fixer, so it is highly toxic in high doses. It is non-biodegradable and accumulates in the environment.
This preservative is found in cosmetics for children and adults (creams, lotions, shampoos, toothpaste, makeup removers, wipes, etc.). It can enter their composition by up to 1%.
It causes eye irritation and is toxic to reproduction and development. The Medicines Agency (ANSM) has asked the European Commission to lower the authorized concentration of phenoxyethanol in products intended for children under three years old to 0.4% and to ban it in products intended for cleaning seats like wipes.
In addition, since 2020, the labeling of wipes containing phenoxyethanol must indicate that they must not be used on the buttocks of children 3 years of age or less (64% of users admit using wipes, whether intended for children or not, to clean the buttocks of toddlers).
Cosmetic products: emulsifiers to be banned
Alkylphenols are present in different forms in cosmetics: octylphenol, nonylphenol, ethylphenol, and amyl phenol. They are used in the composition of hair products (dyes, styling products, shampoos), shaving creams, face and body cleansers, etc.
They are considered endocrine disruptors. The most harmful would be the nonylphenol, authorized only up to 0.1% because of risks to fertility and the development of the fetus. This compound is also included in the composition of spermicide.
Ethoxylated compounds like PEG (polyethylene glycol) are made from a very toxic gas, ethylene oxide. Some may contain dioxane, a compound classified as a potential carcinogen.
Specific manufacturing processes make it possible to eliminate this risk of contamination, but the consumer can not know whether the PEG contained in his product has benefited from it.
PEG, even free from dioxane, has harmful effects:
Applied to damaged skin, it is irritating;
It increases the permeability of the skin, and thus facilitates the penetration of other potentially harmful compounds.
Similar substances like PPG (propylene glycol) have similar actions.
Beware Of Sunscreens In Cosmetics
Present in sun protection, but also certain day creams and make-up products, synthetic sun filters appear in the form of different compounds, such as benzophenone, oxybenzone, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, methyl benzylidene camphor…
They disrupt endocrine function, affecting the development of reproductive organs and delaying puberty.
To avoid a large part of unwanted substances, switch to organic cosmetics!
First, discover the advantages and disadvantages of organic cosmetics.
Take care of your hair with organic shampoos: see how to choose them and what their advantages are.
A little comparison between organic and conventional shower gels will help you make your choice.