Your skin absorbs everything—from chemicals, heavy metals, and bacteria, to toxins and other hazardous ingredients that turn up in makeup and skin care products. And if you’re worried about eating foods like trans fat, you’ll definitely want to know which synthetic ingredients you should watch for in the beauty products you use. Now, we’re not saying that these products are necessarily toxic to the level where you should worry about your life, but you may want to think twice about regularly using something that has some of the ingredients listed below.
Commonly found in: Lipsticks
Lead in your lipstick? No, it’s not an urban legend—it’s a deadly truth. The US FDA tested hundreds of lipstick products, including those from high-end brands, and found lead in all of them. The amounts of lead weren’t small, either. Because those tubes of lipsticks are exported from different countries around the world, it’s possible that the color you’re wearing right now contains lead. That very chemical might be the one causing your irritability, mood problems, insomnia, headache, poor coordination, and even constipation. It’s not easy to learn if your lipstick contains lead. To be safe, don’t lick your lips, don’t eat anything, or kiss anyone while wearing lipstick. Switch to organic products if you must.
Commonly found in: Eye shadows, cleansers, nail polish, shampoos, conditioners, body washes
Formaldehyde helps prevent bacteria growth in products, but it’s deemed as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC).[crp]
Commonly found in: Moisturizers, acne treatments, deodorants, shaving creams, toothpaste
Triclosan can irritate your skin and eyes. What’s worse, this synthetic antibacterial ingredient can also pass through your skin and interfere with the function of your hormones.
Commonly found in: Lipsticks, skin creams (whitening and anti-aging)
Some lipsticks and imported skin creams may contain high levels of toxic heavy metals, such as mercury. It can build up in your body over time and cause long-term health problems, like memory loss, lung damage, and even the dreaded cancer. Always check the label for mercury. The ingredient may also be listed as “mercuric,” “mercurio,” “calomel,” and “mercurous chloride.”
Commonly found in: Concealer, foundation, blush, bronzer, eye shadow, lip liner, face powder
Talc is a known carcinogen; in fact, it’s the major cause of ovarian cancer. Never inhale products containing talc, as they can lodge in the lungs and cause respiratory disorders.
Always check the list of ingredients for these harmful chemicals. If the products contain them, don’t bother—or use them at your own risk. With makeup, as with food and other products, it’s always important to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. And if you can go for organic options while shopping, it’s a decision you may pat yourself on the back for later on.
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Dyan is a 25-year-old writer with a sense of humor of a prepubescent male. On weekends, she hibernates.