Harmful Chemicals in Personal Care Products
We all like to stay healthy and many of us like to look good also. To achieve a healthy life and good looks we end up using a number of personal care products, most of them having chemicals. Well, there are several chemical-based personal care products that are safe for our body, but we should definitely watch out for some nasty ones. These chemicals are strong in nature and when used regularly for years, they have the ability to affect any type of skin. These chemicals also show immediate reaction on sensitive skins.
There are various chemicals used in preparation of cosmetics which should be used with caution else they can have harmful effects. Some such chemicals include:
Coal tar is used in preparation of make-up products and hair dyes. Usage of coal tar based products is closely related to cause of pigmented cosmetic dermatitis. Prolonged usage of some tars also increase the risk of folliculitis. Coal tar is made of polycyclic hydrocarbons which may cause photo toxicity. Exposure to some of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is associated to liver, skin and lung cancers.
It is used for preparation of cosmetic products such as shampoos and soaps. A study on effect on DEA suggests that prenatal exposure may have detrimental effect on the brain development. As per a research study conducted, application of DEA is associated with increased incidences of liver neoplasms and renal tubule adenoma in mice.
Some of the cosmetics such as hair smoothening products also contain formaldehyde. It is also produced in small amounts in the human body which is harmless. However exposure to formaldehyde may lead to allergic reactions to eyes, nose, throat and skin, asthma. It may also cause menstrual disorders in woman. Research studies suggests that exposure to formaldehyde may increase risk of cancer in humans.
Glycol ethers are used as ingredient in preparation of cosmetics. Exposure to glycol ethers may cause law fertility in men and can also be hazardous to a developing foetus. Exposure to ethylene glycol may also cause weakness, nausea, headaches, irritated skin etc.
Some cosmetics may also contain lead which also has harmful effects. Prolong exposure may be carcinogenic, harmful during pregnancy and may cause nausea and headaches irritability. It can also affect nervous system and mental and physical growth of child.
Some of the skin lightening creams may contain mercury which may damage kidneys, liver and brain. Prolonged exposure of inorganic mercury can also harm central nervous system. It may also increase the risk of neurotoxicity and Nephrotic syndrome.
It is one of the prime ingredients used to prepare bleaching products for skin. These bleaching products may aggravate or induce various skin diseases. And the main cause of the skin complications is attributed to the presence of glucocorticoids.
Parabens (Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben, Methylparaben, and Propylparaben)
Various cosmetics such as cream, make-up products, moisturiser, hair care and shaving products contain parabens. A research study indicated the presence of parabens in human breast tumours and also discussed the context of estrogen like properties in parabens. However, the estrogenic activity associated with parabens is much lesser than the body’s natural estrogen activity and there is a lack of data to support carcinogenic properties or other harmful effects. The current usage of parabens is safe as per FDA, and evaluation and identification of health hazards related to parabens will continue in future.
Paraphenylenediamine is used in various hair dyes and tattoos. Such products can be harmful to users in various ways. Usage of products with paraphenylenediamine can lead to dermatitis, allergies, hypersensitivity etc. Care must be taken while choosing hair dyes and tattoos to avoid the health risks.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS acts as emulsifier, surfactant and degreaser, and is used in numerous personal care products such as body wash products, soaps, shampoos, face cleansers, shaving cream, etc. Usage of products containing SLS can cause eye and skin irritation. It can cause allergy and produce drying effect on skin.
This is a synthetic detergent used in various cosmetics and personal care products such as skin care products, cleansers, shampoos etc. Cocamidopropyl betaine was used in these products because of very mild skin irritation caused as compared to other chemicals. However, the rate of sensitization has been on a higher side which is attributed to impurities rendered during the manufacturing process. These impurities include amidoamine and dimethylaminopropylamne and cause higher skin sensitivity.
Kajal a popular eye product made from kohl stone has been used since ancient times. This contains chemicals such as galena, zincite, magnetite etc. Prolong exposures may increase the level of lead and can affect bone marrow, brain and cause anemia and convulsions. It is not permitted for usage in cosmetics by US FDA. Given the harmful effects, usage of kajal should be limited and avoided
Fragrance (hydroxyisohexyl-3-cyclohexene, carboxaldehyde, isoeugenol etc.)
Artificial fragrances can cause numerous health problems on prolong exposure. These include skin irritation, headaches, lung problems, and dizziness.
Mineral oils are used in production of cosmetics. These are obtained from petroleum products and may cause allergies and skin irritations. They may restrict the movement of nutrients and removal of waste matter from the cells by blocking skin pores. A study suggests that cosmetics and products containing mineral oils may be arthritogenic in arthritis prone rats which were investigated during the course of study. Usage of such cosmetics can contribute to arthritis.
Imidazolidinyl and Diazolidinyl urea
These chemical are used as preservatives to release formaldehyde in creams and cosmetics. These chemicals may increase skin sensitivity may also contribute to allergies and contact dermatitis.
Synthetic colors are also harmful and may cause skin allergies and irritation. One should avoid prolong usage of products that contain synthetic colors.
TEA is one of the chemical used to adjust the pH of various cosmetic products. This chemical may be harmful to skin and eyes. It may cause eye problems, dryness of skin and hair and other allergic reactions.
Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) Copolymer
These are used to prepare various cosmetics such as lipsticks etc. Exposure and usage of products containing PVP may induce or increase allergies and dermatitis.
It is obtained from sheep’s wool is used in various cosmetics and personal care products such as eye care products, make-up products, lotion and creams etc. Lanolin can be poisonous if swallowed and can have harmful effects on human body. One may experience skin rash, redness, nausea and vomiting as well. One should be careful while using products that contain lanolin.
Various cosmetic products such lipstick, lotions, hair colors, conditioners etc. contain benzyldimethylstearylammonium chloride. This chemical may irritate skin and eyes. It may damage eyes and may contribute to allergic contact dermatitis.
Skin care creams and lotions contain propylene glycol. This is obtained from petrochemicals and acts as an emulsifying agent. Usage of products containing propylene glycol smoothen the skin but also speed up the skin ageing. It may also cause contact dermatitis and irritation.
Perfumes, nail polish, hair spray, soap, shampoo and moisturisers are some of the products which are used in day to day life. These products may contain phthalates. High exposure to phthalates may affect human reproduction and development. Also, Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate has been anticipated to be carcinogenic and harmful for human body. Further studies are being carried out to ascertain the health impacts of usage of phthalates.
Thus, it is very important for us to know the composition of various cosmetics that we use. Some of the ingredients are chemicals that may have harmful effects on the users. These chemicals may also be present in other products that we use in our day to day life. It is always better to minimize the exposure and harmful effects of these chemicals in the long run. It is advisable to consult your doctor in case of any skin allergies or irritation.