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BY DĀVIS SUHAREVSKIS
They are cheap, abundant and potentially deadly –
the ingredients in your makeup bag, that should to be avoided.
Since beauty products have been around, people have used toxic compounds in the name of beauty. Ladies of the Victorian era used Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade) extract to dilate their pupils, causing blindness in the process. White face paint containing lead was used to get the signature look of geisha, up until the beginning of the 20th century, when it was replaced with rice powder. Unfortunately, at the same time a new trend – glowing cosmetics – appeared. What’s the secret? A mixture of radioactive radium and phosphorus in order to get that glow. Most of these became so popular due to misinformation and a lack of knowledge. Nowadays we know better than to put harmful ingredients on our faces. Or do we?
Let us dive into the murky waters of bad ingredients
and find out what not to use.
Talc is a white opaque powder used in eye shadow, foundations, lipsticks, other make up products as well as baby powder. It seems harmless, and on its own and it is. However, talc is often accompanied by asbestos in the mines. And as it is costly and difficult to separate them, talc usually contains asbestos when ending up in a formulation. Asbestos however is a mineral that has a needle-like crystalline structure (asbestos fiberes) and when inhaled little needles pierce your respiratory organs and can cause inflammation in the lungs, a. k. a. asbestosis, which then can lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and pulmonary heart disease.
We all know silicone; we’ve seen it and have probably been in contact with it. It is a widely used cosmetic ingredient due to its spreadability and soft texture. The molecules of most silicones are too big to penetrate the skin barrier and harm us, but those that aren’t are categorised as persistent, bioaccumulatinge and toxic. When absorbed, silicones induce chronic inflammation, which negatively impacts the adrenal glands and liver, and degrade into smaller molecules, including silica. Silica is a carcinogenic pollutant that damages the immune system and causes silicosis. In conclusion, bye bye silicones!
Mineral oil – it seems to be a no brainer; why would anyone want to use an ingredient derived from petroleum on their face, if there are natural oils containing beneficial fatty acids that nourish the skin and strengthen the lipid barrier. However mineral oil is way cheaper and Pecunia non olet. The problem with mineral oil (apart from its origins) lies in the fact it is dermally absorbed and has a tendency to contaminate our bodies i.e. ends up in our fat cells and even the mother’s milk. Nonetheless it is great for car engines.
While we are riding the petroleum train let’s talk about one more group of derivatives: PEG (polyethylene glycols) are a textbook case of a lousy ingredient. They contain toxic and carcinogenic contaminants, are suspected to have genotoxicity, and to top it off they are extremely prone to penetrating the skin and also act as a form of transport for other ingredients, whether good or bad. PEG – you’re cancelled!
And to end the list – FRP’s. Meaning formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Don’t get me wrong, formaldehyde is a great chemical. It has a multitude of uses, but none of them are in any way compatible with life. Any life. It is used as a biocide, disinfectant and embalming agent. In a living human body, it is irritative and carcinogenic. In cosmetics it is part of the substance used as a low-cost preservative. As it degrades on a warm face, it releases molecule of formaldehyde.
This list is just a tiny part of all the potentially harmful ingredients. Knowing them all and staying clear of them seems like a Don Quixote task, and it is in all fairness . But we are not alone in our fight, organizations like ECOCERT, COSMOS, etc. are vigilantly watching over the market, educating customers and producers who don’t know better. But in any case, doublechecking the shady looking ingredients is always a good idea!