October 31st marks not only the arrival of Halloween, but also the final day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now, at first the two may not seem related, but given all the chemicals that are still found in many of today’s cosmetic products, the two national celebrations actually go hand in hand.
No doubt your kids are going to want to dress up as princesses or clowns, or smear fake blood all over their faces. Makeup and paint are crucial components of some of the best disguises. However, when you’re doing your last-minute costume shopping, it’s important to pay attention to the labels on the products that’ll ultimately wind up slathered on their skin. Whether you’re amping up your own beauty arsenal or shopping for your little ghouls and goblins, here are the 14 harmful chemicals in cosmetics you should avoid, according to health expert Dr. Frank Lipman and Healthy Child, Healthy World.
1. DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine): Commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths, and facial cleansers.
2. Phthalates and Parabens: Commonly found in nail polish, hairsprays, and perfume.
3. FD&C Color Pigments: Made from coal tar, these pigments are extremely carcinogenic. Check for them in any products that look like they contain dyes.
4. Fragrances: Found in most shampoos, deodorants, sunscreens, skincare and body care products.
5: Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin: Commonly used in skin, body and hair products, antiperspirants, and nail polish.
6. Quaternium-15: Used as a preservative in many skin and hair care products.
7. Isopropyl Alcohol: Used in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotion, and aftershave lotions as well as in your car’s antifreeze and shellac.
8. Mineral Oil: Prevents the skin from breathing, absorbing, and excreting, and causes it to age prematurely. Found in baby oil.
9. PEG (Polyethylene Glycol): Commonly used in spray-on oven cleaners and in many hair and skin products.
10. Propylene Glycol: The active ingredient in antifreeze. It is also used in makeup, toothpaste, and deodorant.
11. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate: A deadly class of carcinogen, yet still the most popular ingredients for makeup, shampoo and conditioner, and toothpaste.
12. Triclosan: Sometimes compared to Agent Orange, it is widely used in antibacterial cleansers, toothpaste, and household products.
13. Talc: Found in makeup, kids and adult powders, and foundation.
14. Petrolatum: Also known as petroleum jelly. Used in conditioners, moisturizers, and lip balm.
It’s important to be vigilant when checking labels, since even brands you might not suspect to use these chemicals in many cases still do. Take, for example, Revlon. While the company founded the “Revlon Cares” Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, it’s currently under scrutiny by groups like UltraViolet, the Breast Cancer Fund, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics due to its continued use of carcinogenic ingredients. Also, although companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble (makers of leading brands like Aveeno, Johnson’s baby products, Ivory, Herbal Essences, and Pantene) have agreed to re-formulate their products to remove certain toxic chemicals, these updated products have not yet hit the shelves (most changes will take effect in 2014 and 2015).