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Dangers in the

by Kathleen Barnes W

e all want to look and feel beautiful, often enhancing our best features with assis-

tance from cosmetics. Yet many of us may not be aware of the toxic ingredi- ents contained in products we’re using. “When the Federal Food, Drug, and

Cosmetic Act was passed 77 years ago, it contained 112 pages of standards for food and drugs, and only one page for cosmetics,” says Connie Engel, Ph.D., science and education manager at the Breast Cancer Fund and its Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, in San Francisco. While most cosmetic ingredients must be listed on product labels, some- times their names are hard to recog- nize, many are toxic and some of the most dangerous ones may not even be listed. Labeled toxins commonly found in cosmetics include endocrine disrup- tors that can affect our developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune systems. Here are just a few: Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also

known as Teflon, is found in founda- tion, pressed powder, loose powder, bronzer, blush, eye shadow and mas- cara. It can even enhance the toxicity of other chemicals, according to Danish research published in the International Journal of Andrology, and due to its fluorine base, can disrupt iodine ab- sorption, contributing to breast disease including cancer. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and its cousin, hydroxytoluene (BHT), are common preservatives found in lip

38 Lehigh Valley

products, liquid makeup and moistur- izers that the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption cites as interfer- ing with hormone function. They’ve also been shown to cause kidney dam- age, according to research from Spain’s Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Formaldehyde in many forms, including quaternium-15, coal tar, ben- zene and mineral oils that are prohibited in the European Union and Japan, are classified as carcinogens by the Interna- tional Agency for Research on Cancer. These examples represent the tip of the iceberg of toxic chemicals of concern commonly used in cosmetics. They further range from allergens and substances that cause non-cancerous and cancerous tumors and organ toxic- ity to developmental and reproductive impairment, miscarriage and bioac- cumulation leading to toxic overload when not excreted. Fragrances don’t have to be includ- ed in label ingredient lists, constituting another major concern, explains Engel. “Most cosmetics, even eye shadow, contain fragrance, and those fragrances can contain several dozen unlabeled ingredients, including hormone-disrupt- ing phthalates.” The European Union is the au-

thoritative source on all of these issues. Based on its CosIng (cosmetic ingredi- ents) database accessed via ec.europa. eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing, it has banned scores of toxic chemicals from makeup sold in EU countries.

Cosmetic Bag Choose Safe and Healthy Natural Beauty Aids

Safe and Healthy

Alternatives Fortunately, safe alternatives are avail- able to enhance our natural beauty. “Become an educated consumer and read the list of ingredients,” advises Jan- ice Cox, the Medford, Oregon, author of Natural Beauty at Home. “Fewer ingredients and organic components mean safer products.” Better yet, we can make our own

more natural beauty aids. “One advan- tage of making your own is that you’re in control. You know yourself and your skin and sensitivities,” says Cox. DIY products are easy if intense color isn’t a requirement. “The color many people want is hard to produce with kitchen in- gredients,” Cox explains. “You can make clear mascara and eyebrow tamer with castor oil. It’s easy to make lip balms and maybe get a little color by adding berry juice or beet root powder.” For those that want the look of high- quality makeup without toxins, other good alternatives come into play, says Hollywood makeup artist Lina Hanson,

Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

n Benzophenone

n Butylated compounds, including BHA, BHT n Carbon black

n Ethanolamine compounds including DEA, MEA, TEA

n Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (quaternium-15, imidazolidinyl urea)

n Heavy metals, including lead (may not be labeled) n Phthalates n PTFE (Teflon) n Silica n Talc n Titanium dioxide n Triclosan

Source: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

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