We all know what cosmetics are and how inevitable it is to use them: if a man uses an average of 6 cosmetics a day, in the case of females this number rises to 12 cosmetics.
Very common in our body care and beauty routines, these cosmetics are everywhere, from the make-up or deodorant we use at home, to all the products found in our neighbourhood hairdresser (professionally).
This is undoubtedly a very attractive market sector for start-ups: there are hundreds of millions of consumers and an exorbitant market value – according to Orbis Research and Reuters, it is estimated to reach 805 by 2023. billion dollars.
There are many brands, with more and more products, variants and offers. However, there are few cosmetic brands that really care about what their activity causes, both environmentally and human health.
By the way they are produced, distributed and sold, these are the
two areas in which the cosmetics industry is most harmful:
Environmentally harmful, with the use of chemicals, many non-reusable plastic containers and the use of microplastics in their composition – one of the biggest threats to marine ecosystems and human health;
Harmful to the health of the wearer, with brands promoting the need and overuse of these cosmetics while the products themselves are made up of dangerous substances, often imperceptible to those who read them on labels.
How can cosmetics be harmful to health?
The fact that some cosmetics have these dangerous ingredients in their composition, absorbed very quickly by the body, makes them more unsafe for our health than they should be.
Big brands, on the other hand, defend themselves by stating that the level of toxicity is so small that these components, in contact with the human body, become harmless.
However, this small level of toxicity multiplied by each of the cosmetics we use already makes the definition of “harmless” much greyer and more debatable.
What effects can these cosmetics cause?
If some of these chemicals endanger our well-being, causing
irritation, eczema, allergies or photosensitivity, the big problems are much
deeper than these.
The real risks are those that are not immediately detected – this continuous absorption of dangerous substances is already beginning to be linked to the risk of hormonal cancers, fertility problems, chronic diseases or increased behavioural problems.
But why the chemicals in cosmetics?
It is not a question of poisoning us “on purpose”. What happens is that, at the beginning of the cosmetics industry, chemicals made a very significant difference and boosted the sector exponentially.
What is the big problem? Although some risks have begun to be associated with the components used in each of these cosmetic products, the formulas have remained virtually unchanged from the beginning.
These hazardous ingredients are often responsible for enhancing durability, creating foam, elasticity, adding specific odours or adding colour to certain cosmetic products – some of these features easily dispensable to the average consumer.
5 ingredients to avoid now in your cosmetics
As they appear on the labels: DBP, DEHP, DIDP, FRAGANCE, DEP, or PHTHALATE.
Although very associated with plastic bottles – these are largely responsible for softening plastics, increasing their durability and flexibility – phthalates also had (and still have) a very strong presence in common cosmetics.
They are divided into low molecular weight (DEHP, DBP, DIBP, BBP) and high weight phthalates and are potentially toxic to the reproductive system – one of the reasons why the sale of DBP and DEHP was banned in European Union countries. .
Studies have been carried out relating phthalate exposure during pregnancy or childhood to respiratory problems (asthma and allergy) and hormonal changes in males.
Often described on the labels as “fragrance” or “perfume”, they are mostly found in nail polish, shower gel, sprays or deodorants.
Planetiers Alternatives: cruelty-free varnishes; biological shower gel; natural deodorants.
As they appear on the labels: DMDM HYDANTOIN, FORMALDEHYDE, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA, GLYOXAL, SODIUM HYDROXYMETHYLGLYCINATE, DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, POLYOXYMETHILENE UREA.
Because they have antifungal and antibacterial properties, these chemical compounds are used as preservatives in many common cosmetics.
However, based on animal studies and tests, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified formaldehydes as inhalation carcinogens, allergic agents and skin irritants.
Although some nail polishes, hair straighteners and bleaches can still be found in them, they have been replaced by parabens in recent years.
Planetiers Alternatives: Varnishes without harmful components.
As it appears on labels: METHYLPARABEN, ETHYLPARABEN, BUTYLPARABEN, or another component ending in PARABEN.
Para Hydroxybenzoate (official name), despite having similar characteristics to formaldehydes and being one of the alternatives to their use, has been identified as a potentially carcinogenic agent and may cause allergies and hormonal disorders – however, further studies are still expected to be published. that confirm these effects.
Even without in-depth studies, it is certain that in 2014, the European Commission banned the sale of cosmetics with some parabens, namely isobutyl paraben, isopropyl paraben, benzyl paraben, pentylparaben and phenylparaben.
These “possibly” hazardous substances can be found in deodorants, moisturizers, hair care products, make-up, shower gel, toothpaste and nail polish.
Planetiers Alternatives: Natural Deodorants, Organic Coconut Moisturizer, Natural Makeup, Bio Shower Gels, Organic Toothpastes, Natural Varnishes.
As it appears on the labels: ALUMINUM, CHLOROHYDRATE, ALUMINUM.
Mostly used as an antiperspirant, it is very much associated with irritation, blemishes and skin tissue damage, especially on sensitive skin and when used in large quantities.
Although there are already some studies linking it to the risk of breast cancer, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not yet consider it carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
Aluminium chloride can be found in common deodorants, especially antiperspirants.
Planetiers Alternatives: Natural Deodorants
As it appears on the labels: TOLUENE
This potentially dangerous ingredient can have negative effects on the central nervous system, contribute to dizziness, nausea, memory loss and, in case of continuous contact with pregnant women, affect the development of the foetus.
This chemical is mainly found in varnishes.
Planetiers Alternative: Chemical free varnishes – no hazardous substances.
So what can you do?
Despite the risks and negative effects of these 5 substances on animals, the scientific community is not 100% in agreement on the effects of these hazardous ingredients on humans.
The subject is controversial and very complex, with contradictory studies – many with “supposed” interests behind, with sponsors focused on making these products as marketable as possible.
To protect yourself, it is important to have a proactive attitude towards the subject:
Be aware of the subject and meet the standards recommended by the European Union;
Read the labels of cosmetic products carefully;
Opt for products with fewer ingredients and biological certificates (these contain less toxic substances);
Do not use expired cosmetic products;
See if the products you want to buy have been dermatologically tested and have allergenic potentials in their composition.
And never forget that you can always ask for directions directly to the brands you use. In the European Union producers are required to inform consumers of the possible side effects of all their products.
More than choosing self-titled “Herbal”, “Natural”, “Organic” or “Eco” products, you decide to go around the packaging and look carefully at their labels.
Do your research, know the alternatives you can apply to your life, and always opt for cosmetic products without harmful ingredients that put your health and well-being first.