Cosmetics have been around for thousands of years, and are items which are used to enhance the appearance and scent of the human body. Cosmetics include items such as lotions, creams, perfumes, colognes, makeup, hair color, and many other products. There is evidence that supports the belief that the first cosmetics were used by the people of Ancient Egypt around 3500B.C. Since the 20 th century, the use of cosmetics has become increasingly popular, and many companies have greatly expanded their cosmetic lines to include new and innovative products. With the production of new cosmetics everyday comes the use of new ingredients, as well as the potential for those ingredients to be toxic or harmful in some way. While the U.S Food and Drug Administration does have laws concerning the safety and labeling of cosmetics, it does not have the authority to approve cosmetics before the hit the shelves of your favorite store, instead this is left up to the cosmetic companies. When choosing cosmetics, it is important to read the labels of the products and make sure to stay away from products that have potentially toxic ingredients.
Various studies have revealed that hundreds of different chemicals are found in some cosmetics are toxic and can make people sick. Because the FDA does not require cosmetic companies to report the ingredients used in their products we often times have no idea what chemicals we might be applying to our bodies. These are some of the most common toxic substances that can potentially be found in various types of cosmetics:
Diethanolamine (DEA) - A chemical compound found in many cosmetics. DEA has been suspected of increasing the risk of cancer, and can combine with other substances in cosmetics to form nitrosamines which are highly carcinogenic.
Parabens - A group of chemicals used as a preservative in cosmetics such as shampoo, and tanning spray. Parabens are considered safe and will cause an allergic reaction in only a very small percentage of people. While most studies show that parabens are harmless, there are studies emerging that show parabens to be potentially toxic, and the topic has become fairly controversial.
Triethanolamine (TEA) - An organic chemical compound which is used as a pH balancer in the preparation of cosmetics ranging from lotion to moisturizer, to shampoo. Just as DEA does, TEA is capable of combining with other substances in cosmetics to form nitrosamines, which are highly carcinogenic but due to the low levels of TEA contained in cosmetics, it is very unlikely to cause a problem.
While there can be many toxic substances found in a variety of cosmetics, it doesn't mean that there are no safe items that you can use. More and more cosmetic companies are revealing organic lines that incorporate natural ingredients are much safer than items of the past. It is not necessary to only use organic cosmetics, there are many items available that are safe for use and not necessarily organic. It is important to know what ingredients are in the products that you use, and while this can seem overwhelming, there are various resources available to help you ensure the safety of your cosmetics.
Cosmetic Safety Database - A database of more than 42,000 products with information on the safety of the ingredients put together by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)
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Chanel Fragrances - Chanel perfumes, colognes, and fragrances at FragranceX.