Carcinogens in beauty products: Beware of these cancer-causing chemicals in skincare

People only think beauty and other personal care products are safe. Often, they contain carcinogens, which are toxic ingredients linked to causing cancer. Each product may have them in low doses, but it is still a point of concern because of the cumulative effect. Remember, people use multiple products every day. Over time, that means exposure to layers of dangerous carcinogens.

Side effects of carcinogens in beauty products

On a typical day, a person uses 9 to 15 personal care products, each composed of 15 to 50 ingredients. Effectively, men and women apply over 150 unique ingredients to their bodies daily. It’s safe to know that not all of them are safe.

Since cosmetics and beauty products are not strictly regulated, you can have bronzer filled with untested talc contaminated with asbestos, a carcinogen. And there isn’t much you do about it except get informed.

beauty tips
Beware of these toxic, cancer-causing elements in your beauty products. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Knowledge is power. Be aware of the sketchy ingredients products can have and use that information as a jumping-off point when purchasing anything new.

Types of carcinogens in beauty products you should avoid

1. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

Formaldehyde is a repeatedly used carcinogenic element in makeup, skincare, hair, and body care products. People regularly exposed to it through hair straightening or smoothing products are at an extremely high risk of cancer.

Studies show that using chemical hair straighteners four times a year, puts you at twice the risk of developing uterine cancer, the most common cancer of the female reproductive system. What makes matters worse is that ingredient labels don’t list formaldehyde. Instead, they print chemicals that release formaldehyde, like quaternium-15, bronopol, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and DMDM hydantoin.

2. Butylated compounds

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) is another common chemical used in lipsticks, moisturisers and many other cosmetics. It acts as a preservative and antioxidant. When used in high doses, BHA is a carcinogen and has been shown to cause stomach tumours.

3. Coal tar

Most hair dyes on the market belong to the coal-tar class. These are full of colouring agents that can cause cancer. One of the ingredients and a possible carcinogen you should be on the lookout for is P-phenylenediamine.

4. Parabens and phthalates

Phthalates and parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and are mostly found in personal care products. Research proves that they disrupt the system that regulates hormones, which raises the risk of hormonally-driven cancers like breast, ovarian, and prostate.

5. Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone is one more chemical to beware of. You will find this endocrine disruptor in many skincare products, such as lotions, sunscreens, cleansers, lip balms, and even baby products. When it comes in contact with the skin, it gets absorbed by the circulatory system. And that can potentially disbalance your hormonal system.

Creams also contain carcinogenic elements. Images courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Other carcinogenic elements

1-4 Dioxane, styrene, and lead are more ingredients that aren’t doing your bodies any favours. 1-4 Dioxane creates foam and lather in shower gels, shampoos, bubble baths, and liquid hand soap. It is also present in anti-ageing and body-firming lotions and is likely carcinogenic.

This cancer-causing contaminant is not directly named in labels because it is a by-product of other ingredients. So, steer clear of anything containing the following: PEG, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethene compounds, and chemicals that have names ending in –eth and –oxynol.

Styrene is the element you find in fragrances. It has no definitive link to cancer but can cause it. Similarly, lead, which lives within eyeliners, kohl, and lipstick, is one of the darkest sides of beauty products. It’s a probable carcinogen and a toxin leads to learning and developmental disorders.

How to use beauty products safely

The best advice to prevent carcinogenic elements from entering your body is to be aware. Read the labels on beauty and personal care products. Avoid anything that has chromium, untreated mineral oils, cadmium, crystalline silica, phenacetin, or ethylene oxide. Seek more information on any ingredient that is new to you, and proceed with caution.

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