August 04, 2020

Clean Beauty has been a bit of a buzz word in recent years, but why should we make the switch to "clean" beauty? Unfortunately the beauty industry remains largely unregulated. There is no pre-market regulations that require mandatory testing of chemicals prior to sale in Australia, and unless they are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and classified as having a therapeutic effect or claim, most products and ingredients are not reviewed prior to going on the market.

1 in 8 of the 82,000 ingredients used in skincare are industrial chemicals with the potential for toxicity. Chemicals that are found in skincare are also found in brake fluid, engine degreasers and anti-freeze that are used as industrial chemicals. Allergic reactions and sensitivities are continually increasing due to the number of chemicals found in skincare products.

Fragrance is one of the worst offenders. Companies are allowed to leave some chemical ingredients as trade secrets, fragrance components – with high irritancy profiles off their labels. Fragrance may include any number of over 3,000 stock chemicals, none of which are required to be listed. Tests of fragrance ingredients have found an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation.  

The EU has banned over 1300 ingredients for use in beauty products, where the US has partially banned just 11 ingredients.

According to the EWG ( Environmental Working Group) Since 2009, 595 cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 88 chemicals, in more than 73,000 products, that have been linked to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm.

Most consumers use a wide variety of cosmetics and personal care products. Few consumer products contribute as many chemical exposures as cosmetics and other personal care products. Each day, the average woman uses 12-15 products a day, which means exposure to around 160 unique and potentially harmful chemicals.  Many of these products are applied directly to the skin, the body’s largest organ, where ingredients can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

Although many chemicals in cosmetics pose little or no risk, some have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer, reproductive and neurological harm, and developmental delays. Cosmetic chemicals enter the body through the skin, inhalation, ingestion and internal use, and pose the same risks as food chemicals. 

The EWG believes many of these chemicals should be banned from cosmetics, among the toxic chemicals at the top of their list are:

  • Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
  • Paraformaldehyde, a type of formaldehyde.
  • Methylene glycol, a type of formaldehyde.
  • Quaternium 15, which releases formaldehyde.
  • Mercury, which can damage the kidneys and nervous system.
  • Dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates, which disrupt hormones and damage the reproductive system.
  • Isobutyl and isopropyl parabens, which disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system.
  • The long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer.
  • M- and o-phenylenediamine, used in hair dyes, which irritate and sensitize the skin, damage DNA and can cause cancer.
    If you want to learn more,a great site to check out is the Environmental Working Group's comprehensive searchable database of personal care products and cosmetic ingredients. This scientifically grounded resource explains how thousands of ingredients affect us, and ranks products by safety score to help consumers make informed choices. 


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