In recent decades, an increasing number and variety of chemicals are being used in products of all kinds. What's in the makeup you're wearing, or in the shampoo you used on your hair?
In the United States, the FDA does not have the power to test and approve chemicals in cosmetics and over-the-counter products the way they require drugs companies to show for drug approval.
Fortunately, groups such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics coalition, which is a project of the Breast Cancer Fund, and the Environmental Working Group provide information to help us make our own choices about the chemicals in products that we buy.
The European Union regulates and restricts cosmetic ingredients to prevent possible carcinogens and other health hazards from being used in personal care products.
The EU Cosmetics Directive of 2003, which was revised in 2013, bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics. Ingredients that may cause birth defects, cancer, genetic mutation or reproductive harm are not acceptable in the EU.
According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in the United States, the FDA does not have such wide-reaching powers, and has limited or banned only 11 chemicals from cosmetic products.
1) Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
BHA and BHT are preservatives for many personal care products, and in foods, found in antiperspirants, deodorants, creams, fragrance, hair products, lip products, makeup and sunscreen.
EU has determined that BHT and BHA are linked to cancer, developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, reproductive toxicity. Pregnant women and babies are considered most vulnerable.
2) Coal Tar
Burning coal creates the carcinogen coal tar which contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Coal tar is used in cosmetics, hair dye, lotions, scalp treatments, shampoo and other personal care products, as well as in food and textiles.
According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, bladder, skin tumors, neurological problems, as well as digestive tract, kidney and lung cancers can result from being exposed to coal tar.Read more in Your Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Skin
International Laws.Safecosmetics.org. Retrieved Dec. 5, 2016.
Chemicals of Concern. Safecosmetics.org. Retrieved Dec. 5, 2016.
Coal Tar. Goodguide.com. Retrieved Dec. 5, 2016.
EWG' Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. EWG.org. Retrieved Dec. 5, 2016.
6 Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid! Livestrong.com. Retrieved Dec. 5, 2016.