Toxic makeup is nothing new: the ancient Greeks used heavy metals on their skin, and Egyptian queens wore lead-based black kohl eye makeup.
But last week traces of asbestos – a known carcinogen – were found in concealers as well as glitter makeup marketed for children at Claire’s, a reminder that chemicals and toxic compounds are still lurking in beauty products. In March, Claire’s also voluntarily recalled some of its eyeshadows and face powders after asbestos was also found in those products.
The problem isn’t limited to cosmetics: The FDA recently warned of dangerous bacteria in a leave-in cleansing foam used by hospital patients, alerted tattoo artists to ink contaminated with microorganisms, and found yeast in Young Living Essential Oil Moisturizer.
These issues arise in part because American beauty products are largely unregulated.
“The law does not require that cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, be approved by the FDA before being placed on the market,” notes the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Some toxic ingredients (like asbestos) are inadvertently added during the manufacturing process, while product manufacturers deliberately add others to help with absorption, shine, shine or non-greasy feeling. Studies suggest that chemicals from products people put on their face and body may later show up in urine. Certain compounds, especially when mixed in the body, can increase a person’s chances of developing cancer or impairing their ability to reproduce.
But it’s almost impossible for consumers to determine what’s in cosmetics even by reading the labels, as many compounds can be considered trade secrets and lurk in the “perfume” or “perfume” ingredients of a list.
Alec Batis, a former research chemist who once made hair dyes for the L’Oréal Group, is an expert on the risks and benefits of chemicals used in beauty products.
Batis, who now works as a paid consultant for beauty companies and recently appeared in a documentary titled “Toxic Beauty,” told Business Insider US that people should be concerned about certain chemicals in products like soap, shampoo and perfume. But not all formulations are dangerous.
“It’s not about hating chemicals,” Batis said. “Let’s understand what this stuff really is. “
Here’s a look at 11 problematic ingredients that are nearly universal bathroom vanity staples.