The emails keep rolling in. Many of you have been shocked to learn about some of the nasty stuff in products that are supposed to “protect” us. I want to keep this conversation going and dive into cosmetics and personal care products.
Most women I know wear at least a little bit of makeup. Even those women who couldn’t be bothered to “put their face on” will at least roll on a little lipstick before leaving the house to give them that perfect pout.
But have you ever wondered what’s actually in lipstick? Is it actually safe?
Well let’s start with the fact that 61% of lipsticks have been found to contain lead! When you consider that this lead is on your lips and easily ingested when you eat, drink or lick your lips, you get an inkling of the potential long-term damage that may be done.
But lead is not the only potentially-dangerous chemical lurking. The truth is there are little to no regulations in the beauty industry, which means ‘anything goes’.
Let’s take a look at some of the other harmful ingredients found in a majority of lipsticks on the market:
There was a time when talc seemed so innocent and benign that we actually sprinkled it liberally on our babies. And then we learned that talc is a known carcinogen with a similar composition to asbestos. And yet, so many cosmetic companies are still using talc as a base in their products. Others have switched and are now using natural clays and cornstarch.
FD&C and D&C colors
Your favorite lipsticks may contain FD&C or D&C colors, which are derived from coal tar (Mmmm, delicious!). These coal tar dyes are not only tested on animals but are also carcinogenic. When choosing a lipstick, or any other personal care product, get on your phone and check all of the color numbers with the Environmental Working Group first.
This particular paraben is added to lipstick as a preservative and antifungal agent. It’s widely used on other cosmetics as well. Methylparaben is rapidly absorbed through the skin and intestinal tract.
This is a bit of a tricky ingredient as there are no conclusive studies that show this chemical is a carcinogen. However, this particular preservative is restricted in most European countries because of its possible carcinogenic effects and it has been classified as a “moderate risk” by the Cosmetics Database. It is also thought to possibly disrupt the endocrine system. To make matters worse, Methylparaben is often a hidden ingredient, which means you won’t even see it listed in the ingredients, though it is very present in the product.
Retinyl palmitate is often added to lipsticks as a synthetic preservative. It is easily absorbed into the skin and there is some evidence that links this chemical to cancers and certain reproductive issues.
Now Retinyl often gets praise for being an effective anti-aging ingredient. And yes, even though it is a synthetic, the body still can use it as vitamin A and potentially repair the collagen and elastin in the skin.
That’s the “sort of” good news.
The bad news is, once Retinyl palmitate is absorbed into the skin, it turns into retinol. When retinol is exposed to ultraviolet light, these compounds break down and produce toxic radicals that can damage our DNA, potentially leading to cancer and other health issues.
It’s best NOT to use lipsticks that contain this ingredient, especially pregnant women. At the very least, if you are going to wear lipstick that contains Retinyl palmitate, avoid direct exposure to sunlight (wear a hat and don’t wear it to the beach!).
These are just a handful of some of the very harmful ingredients in lipsticks. If you are concerned about the potentially harmful ingredients in lipsticks, I encourage you to do a bit more digging.
How to Find and Choose Non-Toxic Lipsticks
In doing research for this post I found a few certifications and labels you can look for that will help you pick lipstick and other makeup products that are safe and non-toxic:
EWG – The Non-Toxic Certification
Founded in 1993, The Environmental Working Group offers certification for products that are non-toxic for both the environment and human health. EWG’s certification means a product went through very strict analysis and was found safe from hazardous chemicals. If you see an EWG label on any makeup or skincare product, you can feel good about its safety.
Made Safe was created in 2014 by the non-profit organization called Nontoxic Certified. The organization uses a third party to review ingredients in order to certify and label a product as not toxic to human health or the environment.
Currently there are 6500 hazardous substances that are banned from the Made Safe ingredient list.
Cosmos – Organic And Natural Cosmetics Certification
Cosmos Organic is a certification for organic and natural cosmetics products created by Ecocert. The international organization was created in 1991 and is present in over 130 countries.
COSMOS certification guarantees the product and manufacturing processes are environmentally friendly, use natural resources, contain no petrochemical ingredients, and use recycled packaging.
It’s so important we look at the ingredient list on our beauty products the same way we look at (or at least we SHOULD) our food products. Those ingredients will get inside your body and potentially do damage. Get informed and make the healthiest decisions for you and your family!
Don’t pout about it! Do something about it. Don’t buy toxic cosmetics.
Let’s chat in the comments section below.