Cosmetics: Are they Killing You?

The following is taken directly from www.davidsusuki.org. (More detailed info at davidsuzuki.org/dirtydozen/)

Toxins from our environment are accumulating in our bodies and causing disease. These toxins are everywhere but there is something that we can do. There are areas in our lives that we can control what's coming into our bodies. Namely food, water, cosmetics, personal care products and cleaning products.

  

Loopholes in Canada’s Cosmetics Laws

Manufacturers are not required to disclose specific fragrance ingredients on the product label. Instead, the generic term perfume is listed, representing a mixture of potentially dozens of chemicals.

Products regulated as “drugs” on the basis of therapeutic claims (e.g., tartar-fighting toothpaste, bacteria-killing cleansers, face cream with sun protection) are only required to list ‘active’ ingredients,

not a complete list as required for products regulated as cosmetics.

Although most ingredients in cosmetics have never been tested for their effects on human health and the environment, Health Canada does not require pre-market testing of chemicals used in cosmetics.

Under Canada’s Cosmetic Regulations, manufacturers are required to disclose the concentration of each ingredient in their product to the Minister of Health, but this information is not made public.

Chemicals that are prohibited or restricted may still be present in cosmetics as byproducts or impurities Manufacturers are not required to disclose specific fragrance chemicals in the list of ingredients

Products marketed as “fragrance-free” or “unscented” may contain fragrance ingredients, in the form of masking agents that prevent the brain from perceiving odour.

 

The Dirty Dozen

BHA and BHT: Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by five digits. P-phenylenediamine is used in some hair dyes; other colours are used in a variety of cosmetics. Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.

DEA-related ingredients: Used in some creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Dibutyl phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.

Paraben, methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben: Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may interfere with male reproductive functions.

Parfum: Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics. Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife.

PEGs (e.g., PEG -60): Used in some cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer.

Petrolatum: Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lipsticks and moisturizers. Can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.

Siloxanes: Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Sodium laureth sulfate: Used in some foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer.

Triclosan: Used in some antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpaste, cleansers and deodorants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

 

What can you do?

1. First of all, read labels.

2. Spend some time to find some new favourites for yourself.

3. Throw out products that are doing you harm.

4. Write to your MP demanding better labelling.

5. Spread the word.

 

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