Women are being exposed to
deadly diseases through the everyday use of common cosmetics bought over
The growing list of synthetic
ingredients manufacturers add to their products are turning the most innocent-looking
shampoos and moisturizers into cocktails of toxins that could cause cancer
over years of sustained use.
These synthetic ingredients
are inexpensive, stable and have a long shelf-life. Manufacturers love
them, but although the majority of products appear safe in the short run
the results from long-term use could be deadly.
Modern cosmetics contain a
host of dubious ingredients thatwould be more at home in a test tube than
on our faces. Coal tar colors, phenylenediamine, benzene, even formaldehyde,
are just a few of the synthetic chemicals commonly included in shampoos,
skin creams and blushes - toxins which are absorbed into your skin with
There is no question that people
are being damaged by their cosmetics. How can they not be? So many things
are put into cosmetics now that are carcinogenic and it is allowed because
cosmetics are not considered to be as serious as drugs or food.
The adverse effects of toxins
is compounded over decades, confusing hormone receptors and slowly altering
cell structure. Chemicals are transmitted into the bloodstream in a number
of ways: powders have the least absorption, while oily solutions or those
designed to increase moisture allow more of the chemical to be absorbed.
Eye makeup can be absorbed
by the highly sensitive mucous membranes. Hair sprays, perfumes and dusting
powders can be inhaled, irritating the lungs. Lipstick is often chewed
off and swallowed.
The United Nations Environmental
Program estimates that approximately 70,000
chemicals are in common use across the world with 1,000 new chemicals
being introduced every year. Of all the chemicals used in cosmetics,
the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has reported
that nearly 900 are toxic - although other groups attack that figure as
being far too conservative.
Compared to the toxins found
in our air, soil and waterways, cosmetics seem a trivial pursuit to many
environmental health and consumer advocacy groups. But many of the same
poisons that pollute our environment, from dioxins to petrochemicals,
can be found in the jars and bottles that line our bathroom shelves.
It is too early to know with
certainty how serious the long-term impact could be on health, but warns
that hormone-disrupting chemicals may lurk in cosmetics which could lower
immunity to disease and cause neurological and reproductive damage. 'Many
of these same ingredients have been found to cause cancer in laboratory
animals,' she said. 'At best, a visit to your neighborhood cosmetic counter
could result in allergies, irritations and sensitivities.'
Observer April 7, 2002