Women shopping for cosmetics

Cosmetic ingredients – what price for beauty?

The announcement from medical experts that PIP breast implants don’t cause cancer, but remain twice as likely as other forms of implants to rupture, made me think of all the things we do for beauty and the long-term effects on our health.

Whatever the reason for having the implants (and of course I’m not referring to patients who’ve had surgery for medical reasons such as breast cancer when I speak of doing things for vanity), for many women this report isn’t enough to reassure them and there are calls for further research and testing.

You could say it’s human nature that leads many of us to do our utmost to keep wrinkles and greys at bay. From botox injections to lip fillers and over-the-counter potions and lotions; we’re a nation obsessed by our looks.

Is hair dye safe to use?

After discovering that I’m allergic to a well-known brand of hair dye (that wasn’t even permanent), I’ve been doing some research into whether or not there is an organic hair dye that is 100 per cent safe.

In doing so, I was shocked to find that many of the ‘greener’ dyes out there still contain a whole host of chemicals, including PPD (Paraphenylenediamine), which is basically a sensitiser. In other words, it is something that your body is naturally allergic to, or may become allergic.

Now I’ve discovered that the ‘safer alternative’, henna, may not be as safe as many of us are led to believe (specifically black henna, which often contains coal tar, acetone, lighter fluid, turpentine and PPD). I’m getting more greys just thinking about it.

Short of growing grey gracefully, or putting triple strength coffee on my head and leaving it for a few hours then going out and smelling like an espresso, I am yet to discover a natural product that actually works and won’t make me ill.

Exposure to chemicals in beauty products

I think that consumers should be given more information on the research that is available so we can understand the effects of long-term exposure to certain chemicals.

I don’t think we should go as far as putting a sign up on a deodorant with the words: ‘You smell great but this may kill you’. But it would be good if manufacturers could be a bit more transparent about the products they use.

Obviously that doesn’t make good marketing, but if you look at sales of tobacco products then it is evident that people will still smoke even with the knowledge that smoking can kill.

If someone wants to buy a face cream that makes them look 30 years younger, they will buy it whether or not there is a chemical that may cause them cancer. For many of us though, we would like to be given more information to make that decision. Or we could just buy purely organic products…

Understanding the ingredients and risks

If you are interested in finding out more about specific ingredients (parabens, petrolatum and coal tar to name a few) and this blog has made you think about what products you use, then you may want to visit the Environmental Working Group’s skin deep website. Here you can search for a large range of products available on the market and find out the ingredients and potential risks.

You can also find out more information by visiting the website from the The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA). The association claims to reduce confusion about chemicals and the products derived from them.

Posted in Blog, cosmetics and beauty.

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