What’s in your makeup?

September 1, 2008

by Kristen Miller

While getting ready in the morning and putting my makeup on, I listen to KS-95.

On this particular morning, Greg and Melissa were talking to one of the founders of the Organic Divas.

This particular diva was talking about harmful chemicals in cosmetics and body care products.

I’ve heard of this before, but I was never aware that some of these chemicals could be linked to breast cancer.

So, to do some research I checked out www.organicdivas.com. There, I found a list of “The Diva Dozen” which is a list of “synthetic cosmetic ingredients known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, birth defects or endocrine disruption.” Scary, right?

Then, I took that list home and compared it to some of my everyday products such as shower gel, facial cleanser, and body lotion. These few products, I found two of the chemicals – Methyl Paraben and Propyl Paraben – which are both linked to breast cancer.

I didn’t check on my makeup ingredients – because frankly, I don’t want to know until I can afford to buy all new natural makeup – because certain cosmetics supposedly contain phthalates.

According to the organic divas, phthalates can be linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, hormone disruption, allergies/immunotoxicity, persistence and bioaccumulation, and non-reproductive organ system toxicity.

I’m not even sure what all of that means, but I’m pretty sure none of it is good.

The web site also says it’s been linked to reproductive birth defects in baby boys and may cause damage to lungs, liver, and kidneys.

In further research, I found the European Union banned the use of phthalates because high doses were shown to have an effect on rodents.

But according to the Phthalate Information Center (www.phthalates.org) put out by the American Chemistry Council, Inc., the levels of phthalates in beauty products aren’t high enough to cause damage and the “mechanism that causes cancers in rats isn’t significant in people.”

Even so, if it causes health effects in rats, I’m pretty sure it isn’t too good for humans, either. I don’t know, it’s just a theory.

The organic diva has heard this before as well, and refuted it by explaining that skin is the largest human organ and because a woman uses beauty products throughout a substantial length of her life, these chemicals can have potential cancer-causing effects.

Well, I say it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Talking to a friend of mine on this subject, she informed me about dimethicone, another chemical commonly found in body lotions. This, too, has been a known cancer-causing agent and is also banned in Europe.

Looking on WebMD, under the precautions, which include allergies, it states, “It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk.”

I don’t like that. Why is it “unknown,” and should we be using it if it actually could pass into breast milk? I don’t know, but it sounds like the Federal Drug Administration isn’t doing it’s job.

No, I’m not going to go home and throw all my makeup, body, and hair products in the garbage, but I am going to be a little more conscientious and start purchasing more organic and all-natural products without these possibly harmful chemicals.

The word “chemical” even sounds like something I shouldn’t be putting in or on my body.

There is a lot of informational web sites out there including one I found, where I can type in my product brand and it will tell me the levels of hazards – www.cosmeticdatabase.com.

I don’t want to scare anyone, I just want people – women in particular – to be more aware of what they are putting on their bodies.

Just keep in mind, you can’t go wrong with nature.