|METALS IN MEDICINE AND THE ENVIRONMENT|
|Metals||Concealing the Truth: The Hidden Dangers of Makeup|
Make-up is far from a new fashion trend and the toxicity of the product is as old as the tradition.(3) The ancient Egyptians used mercury based face powder, and during the Elizabethan era the ladies of the court used arsenic face powder to create the desired snow white skin.(3) In 1933, one woman was blinded by “Lash Lure” and another died from its application. In 1938, “Kormelu,” a depilatory cream, was being sold with the active ingredient thallium acetate.(3) Thallium acetate is used to kill rats and was known to cause baldness, pain, and paralysis.(3) A study done at the University of California revealed that people working in the cosmetics field were four times as likely to have multiple myeloma (a malignant bone tumor).(3) Below is a tabulated version of several common cosmetic products, the harmful ingredient, the purpose for incorporating the chemical, and the adverse effect. So why is this still going on today when we know so much more about the effects? Unfortunately cosmetics are a low priority because of they are assumed to not be harmful.(3) The assumption is mainly based on the theory that skin will block absorption, but since many drugs are delivered in patch form this hypothesis should be revisited.(3) Most cosmetics are not tested for more than an acute allergic reaction, and that consumers stop usage of makeups when they show a reaction. Testing for effects of chronic use is expensive and rarely done. In 1938, the U.S Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted and in 1977 a mandatory ingredient list on packaging was added to the act.(3) But how can a consumer know what is harmful and what is not since few cosmetics have warnings? In addition, a review of the labeling as regulated by the Cosmetic Act shows it to be insufficient for the average consumer.(5) The act requires that labels be placed on products that are harmful, and these can be seen on hair dyes, eye shadow, and mascara. However, since the research is limited to short term and acute effects of toxins no label has to be made for the long term effects.
Table 1: Common Cosmetic Products
Titanium Dioxide (7)
Zinc Oxide (10)
Zinc dioxide is also found in most common cosmetics, such as 224 different foundations, 149 sun blocking products, 96 facial powders, 72 types of concealers, 72 types of eye shadows, 58 different lipstick types, 51 mask products, 41 diaper creams, 31 facial moisturizer/treatment, and 28 blushes.(8) This is a total of 822 known cosmetic products currently on the market that contain this chemical. Zinc oxide can cause a variety of health issues including “brass founders”, “ague”, or “brass chills.” The symptoms of this particular side effect are usually flu-like, and are a common occupational hazard. Acute effects are respiratory irritation with nasopharyngitis and laryngitis, irritation of the eyes, and chronically it can cause human systemic effects.(11)
This chemical has been reported in several types of cosmetics such as 756 different facial moisturizer/treatment, 512 moisturizers, 496 types of anti-aging products, 397 facial cleansers, 341 sunscreen with spf 15 and above, 225 types of foundations, 211 other products for sun blocking, 203 types of body washes/cleansers, 182 exfoliants/scrubs, and 178 types of creams for another the eye.(8) This makes a total of 3501 types of products with this chemical currently on the market for consumers. Acute problems can range from eye irritation, inflammation, redness, watering, and itchiness to skin irritation, itchiness, scaling, reddening, or blistering. The chemical is known to be toxic to the kidneys, the nervous system, and liver. Phenoxyethanol may lead to chronic respiratory irritation as well.(15)
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a mixture of isomers of tertiary butyl-substituted 4-methoxyphenols, and consists chieflyof 3-t-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole with lesser amounts of 2-t-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole. It is present is a variety of cosmetics such as: 105 types of lipsticks, 41 lip liners, 35 different facial moisturizers/treatments, 33 eye shadows, 26 types of eye liners, 23 skin fading/lighteners, 21 anti-aging products, 21 lip glosses, 19 types of moisturizers, 15 concealers.8 This makes for a total of 339 products that contain this highly hazards chemical that are currently being sold to consumers. BHA is a carcinogen, endocrine toxicant, gastrointestinal or liver toxicant, immunotoxicant, neurotoxicant, respiratory toxicant, and skin toxicant. This chemical causes cancer, bioaccumulates, and has negative reproductive and developmental effects.(17)
Aluminum Hydroxide (18)
Aluminum hydroxide is found in numerous different cosmetic products such as: 56 types of foundation, 52 types of sub blocking products, 34 types of concealers, 31 diffenernt sunscreens with spf 15 and above, 28 facial moisturizer/treatment products, 21 anti-aging products, 13 lipsticks, 11 facial powders, 9 acne treatment products, and 6 lip balms.(8) This makes a total of 261 different cosmetic products currently being sold to consumers with chemical. This chemical has developmental and reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity, skin irritation, lung irritation, and eye irritation.(19)
Barium Sulfate (20)
Many other chemicals that are put into cosmetics are only mildly toxic; however some play a role in the uptake of these more toxic ones. Since often the desired outcome is absorption, many manufacturers will add chemicals that aid in the absorption of there product through the skin such as boron nitrate.(8) There are countless other toxic chemicals present in cosmetics, if you are concerned cosmetic safety database will help you to determine how harmful the products you are that you are using.
(1) Associated Press. Ethnicity a factor in makeup use. Palto Alto Daily News. (2007).
(2) Dortch, S. Women at the cosmetics counter - demographic trends in the cosmetics industry. American Demographics. (1997).
(3) Barczac, C. The Hazards of Cosmetics. AEHA Quarterly. (2005).
(4) Aluminum and human health. Health Canada (2003).
(5) Congress. Cosmetic Act. Congress. (2003)
(6) University of Edinburgh. Chemistry. University of Edinburgh (2007).
(7) Wikipedia. Titanium Oxide. Wikipedia. (2007)
(8) Environmental Working Group. Cosmetics Safety Database. Environmental Working Group. (2007).