Cosmetics is one of the sectors that has grown most during the last decades. The oldest cosmetics were created thousands of years ago, although linked to religious rites and reserved for shamans or priestesses. The first decorations of the body used by the civilian population were probably tattoos, indications of its use were as early as 6,000 BC.
The first evidence of cosmetics similar to those we know now have been found among the Egyptian people around 4,000 BC. Most were of animal or vegetable origin, although some mineral products, sometimes highly toxic, such as mercury, were also used.
Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, there was a great development of cosmetics and many new products were introduced, still manufactured mainly based on plants. But it was from the beginning of the 20th century that cosmetics became popular and until today they become an almost essential product in most homes.
They Are More Common Then You Might Think
Nowadays, cosmetics have incorporated chemicals into their formulas and thousands of these compounds are used excessively. Shampoos, soaps, various hair accessories, and even clothing contain some of the harmful chemicals that we put on our body without even knowing their bad nature. However, several scientists and organizations have raised the alarm about the impact of these compounds.
Thus, according to activist and chemical specialist Annie Leonard, less than 20 percent of the chemicals used in beauty products in the United States have been analyzed. On the other hand, the International Health Organization has categorized 11 of them as the most dangerous that are still found in many products we use daily. They are the following:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – It is used in soaps and shampoos for its properties to produce foam. International Health Organization discourages it because it may contain 1.4-dioxane, a compound that is suspected to be carcinogenic.
Triclosan – Very used in cosmetics for its antibacterial and fungicidal properties. Common in soaps and deodorants. It is suspected that it interferes with hormonal functions and the European Union has declared it as “very toxic”, especially for aquatic organisms.
Formaldehyde – It is the basis of what is generally known as formaldehyde. Its use has been linked by several studies with the appearance of cancers. They are used as preservatives for cosmetics. Several studies have also connected it with irritations, asthma and reproductive problems.
Parabens – They are used for their effectiveness as a preservative and for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. There is a lot of controversy about its use since a study found parabens in a high percentage of women with breast cancer. Most scientific associations consider that parabens are safe, although their long-term effect is little studied.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds – They are frequent in cream cosmetics because of the texture they provide. Like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it can contain 1.4-dioxane. They can usually be identified by the suffixes “ethyl” or “glycol”.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – They are synthetic antioxidants. According to the European Union Health Administration, it can cause allergic reactions and its suspected that they can act as endocrine disrupters or have immunological effects and cause hyperactivity.
P-Phenylenediamine – It is used mainly in permanent dyes and also in some types of makeup. It is suspected that it can cause cancer. It can be found with several names on the labels. One of the most common is CI 76060.
Diethanolamine – They are chemicals used to make the most creamy or sparkling products. DEA, as it is often abbreviated in labels, is an irritant compound for the skin and eyes. It can also react with nitrites and become carcinogenic.
Dibutyl Phthalate – Used mainly in nail products and perfumes. The International Health Organization considers that it is a potential hormonal disrupter. In addition, laboratory experiments have shown that, although it is not a carcinogen by itself, it can increase the ability of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations.
Siloxanes – They are added to cosmetics to make them more creamy and pleasant to the touch. There are several types, mainly Cyclotetrasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, and Cyclomethicone. Its effects can vary, from affecting the hormonal functions in humans to causing infertility.
Petrolatum – it is a petroleum derivative. It may contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH or PAH). There are different types of PAH and some of them have been declared carcinogenic. Exposure to this type of compounds during pregnancy is also related to lower intellectual development and the appearance of asthma in the child.
Pay close attention to these 11 harmful chemicals that are sadly still found among many cosmetic products. Try to memorize their names and next time you go to buy a shampoo or some other cosmetic look closely at the back of the product and never buy those with these notorious chemicals as ingredients. In this world created by the chemical industry it’s hard to distinguish healthy stuff from harmful, but with increasing awareness about their dangerous face can little by little improve everyone’s health as well as your own.