Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in plastics. Regarded as endocrine disruptors and carcinogens are specifically used in nail products, hair sprays and many other skin care products .
Toluene is another chemical used in nail products powerful enough to be a paint thinner. It is a petrochemical which is toxic to liver and known to cause birth defects.
3. Polyethylene (PEGs)
Makeup and hair colour, skincare products with a thick, creamy, moisture-heavy texture may contain this next ingredient to avoid which helps in better penetration of the product. It alters the skin’s natural moisture factor. These are known carcinogens and respiratory irritants, which on long term exposure cause serious health concerns .
4. Carbon black
Carbon black though added to fda’s list of banned products, is still found in cosmetic products. Most dark black pigment in eye makeup comes from carbon black, or a version of it. This is a red flag ingredient to look out for, particularly in eye makeup which has been linked to cancer and organ toxicity.
5. Heavy metals
Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminium, zinc, chromium and antimony are found in a wide variety of personal care products including lipstick, whitening toothpaste, eyeliner, antiperspirants and nail colour. These are neurotoxin linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility, and delays in the onset of puberty for females.
In 2019, the FDA advised consumers to avoid using certain cosmetic items due to them testing positive for asbestos. Even asbestos-free talc should be avoided in the pelvic areas. Talc elevates lung burden and is linked to ovarian, endometrial and lung cancers.
A synthetic antibacterial agent that may disrupt thyroid function and create bacterial resistance is usually found in soaps, mouthwash, shaving cream, deodorants, toothpastes, etc.
Ethanolamines like DEA and TEA helps water-soluble and oil-soluble ingredients blend together. Found in facial cleansers, soaps are carcinogenic and has been proven to reduce brain development.
With inputs from Sravya C Tipirneni, Consultant Dermatologist and Cosmetologist at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.