What’s in You Lipstick?

There’s nothing pretty about some of the ingredients found in common cosmetics. The products that have become integral parts of the daily routines of millions, including shampoos, facial cleansers, and hairspray, often contain substances that can be extremely harmful, not only for the user, but also the people and the environment around them. Unfortunately, no amount of concealer can hide this ugly truth.

David Suzuki’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list details the detrimental substances found in the cosmetics of thousands of surveyed Canadians. Many have negative impacts on wildlife and the environment, and some are suspected of causing cancer.

The cosmetics industry is highly unregulated, which leads to many unsafe products making their way onto shelves all over the world. The industry uses thousands of synthetic chemicals in its products, some of which are also used in industrial manufacturing processes to clean machinery, stabilize pesticides, and grease gears. 

International concern about the environmental impact of cosmetics is supported by data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Census Bureau; more than 3 million tons of personal care chemicals enter the water system each year.

If even one bottle of chemical-laden moisturizer floating in a waterway can have serious impacts on a marine environment, it’s easy to imagine the sort of damage that a huge quantity of similar products could incur on the global environment.

Nail polish is perhaps the most infamous of all cosmetic products in terms of nasty hidden ingredients. The ‘Toxic Trio’ commonly found in the product (dibutyl phthalate, toluene compounds, and formaldehyde) can seriously affect the health of those exposed to them.

Nitrocellulose is another unsavoury ingredient that can be found in our pretty polish. Despite being synthesized from cellulose, nitrocellulose is a synthetic substance with vapours that can irritate our skin, eyes, and lungs. Nitrocellulose is also used in automobile paint and the explosives found in dynamite and fireworks. 

There is evidence that suggests the biggest carbon footprint is created at the consumer level, either by wasting or by misusing the products. Approximately one-third of U.S. landfill waste has been estimated to consist of the packaging from our beauty products. Even after the products have finished damaging our bodies, they continue to damage the environment. DDT, a product that has been banned in many countries, has been proven to remain in soil for more than 20 years

Millions of people use cosmetics and similar products to care for their bodies, but they may actually be damaging them through this practice. It’s important to know if your facial cleanser contains ingredients that also work wonders on a car engine! To limit negative effects, be aware of the ingredients in your beauty products. Avoid waste as much as possible, even when using natural products. Take care of the environment, as well as yourself.

by Petranella Daviel