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What are the risks of cosmetics? How do I choose safe products?

 We hear a lot about the harm  of cosmetics , and how they may cause  skin irritation  and many skin diseases, and they may also lead to  cancer .

Some women may resort to only using  “clean” cosmetic products  produced by well-known international companies, as they are safe for  the skin  and environmentally friendly, but to what extent should we trust these products?

According to a number of experts in this field, even products that are classified as clean and safe may harm our skin in many ways, and buying expensive products from international brands such as L'Oréal Paris or Sephora does not mean at all that our skin is necessarily safe.

Here's everything you need to know about it, according to  HuffPost  .

Cosmetic damage

When it comes to cosmetic ingredients  that  are classified as “dangerous,” we will definitely start with “talcum powder.”

Talcum powder is the main ingredient in baby powder, known as “Baby Powder.” It contains asbestos, or asbestos, which itself is a known carcinogen.

Several women have sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming they developed  cancer  after using this brand's baby powder.

However, despite studies indicating that talcum powder contaminated with asbestos may be dangerous, there is no explicit provision by the US Food and Drug Administration prohibiting its use.

On the other hand, talcum powder is found in a wide range of cosmetic products such as lipstick,  face  powder, foundation creams,  deodorants , eye  shadows   , and face masks  . 

And talcum powder isn't the only dangerous ingredient.

The European Union lists more than 1,000 “dangerous” ingredients in  cosmetics , yet the Food and Drug Administration has banned only 11 ingredients from this list.

Rex Chu, founder of the cosmetics brand  Ghost Democracy and a former employee of product development at L'Oréal, warned that fragranced  lotions   could be hiding more dangerous ingredients.

“Not only do these aromatics have the potential to increase  skin sensitivity , but they are also a very deceptive ingredient. Almost all skincare products have   fragrances added, and since important brands do not need to disclose their ingredients, these ingredients are often contaminated with carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, petroleum derivatives, and phthalates,” he says.

And because of the consumers’ lack of confidence in the safety of these products on  their skin , many women resorted to using special products that are known as “clean beauty” products.

What are clean beauty products?

The clean beauty industry has boomed   lately, and is now worth nearly $10 billion a year, and growing, but some aspects of the industry are still shrouded in mystery.

Some women believe that clean beauty products are made with organic materials, while others believe that these products are made of 100% natural materials.

The concept of “clean beauty products” may indicate that they are environmentally friendly products that are completely free of animal products and that they are definitely safe for  the skin .

Unfortunately, however, there is no guarantee for us that these products are completely trustworthy, due to the lack of high control practices in these industries, we cannot trust the claims of a cosmetic company that says that its cosmetics are “100% natural” or that they are paraben-free, for example. For example, we have no confirmation of the veracity and accuracy of these allegations.

How much should I trust clean beauty products?

According to New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, “There is no data to prove that clean skin care products are more effective or safer than conventional products. In fact, several ingredients have been shown to cause skin allergies  or irritations  .  ”

Natural ingredients commonly found in skin care products that have been linked to dermatitis include aloe vera, cucumber, ginkgo, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, chamomile and  tea tree oils . 

Dermatologist Hadley King commented on this, saying: “I have met many patients who developed allergic contact dermatitis, due to the natural oils present in some lotions.”

She also pointed out that "toxic heavy metals such as aluminum, cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic" are sometimes found in cosmetics, especially in mineral makeup.

Although a single cosmetic product may not contain enough of these ingredients to cause harm, the accumulation of  heavy metals  can cause digestive upset, organ damage, and other problems.

These ingredients are particularly harmful to infants and young children. 

Is the word “clean” a new opportunity to make more profits?

The most common problem among female consumers is that we do not always know what our cosmetics contain and their possible effects.

Sometimes a product's ingredients are not listed on its label (such as what ingredients “perfume” contains) or hidden contaminants are attached (such as asbestos in talcum powder).

Most of the time, even if we know what the ingredients are, there is not enough information that we can know how these ingredients will affect us. 

Even in cases where studies have been conducted on some of these components, these studies are not sufficiently thorough and extensive to reach any real conclusions.

Michelle Wong, who holds a PhD in chemistry and runs the Instagram account  @labmuffinbeautyscience  , is a clean beauty skeptic.

"The problem is that every ingredient is listed at a safe rate, and every ingredient is harmful when overused, so there really aren't any brands that have an exact scientific definition of what 'clean' means," she says. 

All in all, we shouldn't talk about clean beauty without acknowledging that for many companies, that description is nothing more than a business opportunity. 

“A lot of companies are catching the opportunity to catch up with the clean beauty industry, and just because they don't use sulfates or parabens, they're promoting themselves as a clean brand,” says Chu. 

He warned, for example, that even clean beauty products may contain fillers or plasticizers that are associated with endocrine disruptors or carcinogens such as hydroquinone and butoxyethanol. 

International brands adopting clean products / however, you have to be careful

Ole Henrickson's Banana-scented Moisturizing Eye Cream  , which is labeled "clean" on Sephora, is an example of how that word doesn't necessarily mean that you personally won't have a problem with the product . 

Scrolling through customer reviews, amidst the compliments, reveals a long list of people who say they developed severe symptoms after using their eye cream for several months.

 Although Zenker said that each individual's response to the product and its cause differ from one person to another, he pointed to preservatives that do not contain parabens, plant extracts - especially from citrus fruits - even vitamin C as  a  potential skin irritant . 

Sulfates are also still on the list of some clean beauty ingredients.

Although generally safe to use,  sodium laureth sulfate  (SLS) can be harsh on the skin, can be severely irritating, and can exacerbate skin conditions such as  eczema .

Lush, known for its bubble bath, is often thought of as a clean brand, but many of its products still include these ingredients; Due to the rich foam it produces. (The Lush brand website has a page for each ingredient, which explains why the brand continues to use sodium laureth sulfate.)