Are Your Cosmetics Safe For Your Skin?


Spring 2024

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I can tell you from personal experience that no brand of eye make-up suits me. It doesn’t matter what brand I choose to wear – the moment I wear eye make-up, my eyes swell up and I writhe in pain for the next few days!

Call it paranoia, overwhelmed with information, or just plain crazy, but what I have realized is that some cosmetics cause more harm than benefits. The chemicals contained in cosmetics including lead, carcinogens, pesticides, amongst others, are potentially scary and harmful.

The Internet is filled with articles informing us about ‘dangerous make-up products.’ and ‘which cancer-causing cosmetics to avoid,’ to ‘hazardous chemicals found in make-up;’ all claiming to know best. While all of it might be true, a wise person might take all of it with a pinch of salt, and would rather research on which of the cosmetics are truly harmful, and how to identify and replace them.

The first step is information. Knowing and understanding what works for you, will allow you to make intelligent and conscious choices for yourself, your family, and the planet.

Researchers have found that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products are hazardous industrial chemicals. This means that 10,500 industrial chemicals are used as cosmetic ingredients, many of which are carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (substances used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (chemicals used to reduce surface tension in water, like paint and inks).

Although, cosmetics and makeup are primarily used for beautifying purposes, packed with harmful synthetics and chemicals, they could leave you with unpleasant skin conditions. What’s worse, they inhibit your skin from breathing and are an optimum breeding ground for bacteria.

It might be worthwhile to individually consider some daily makeup items to see if they make it to the trash list or not.


If you ever wondered before smearing that red colour paint on your lips – if it had any harmful health benefits – the answer is yes. Researchers state that lipsticks and lip glosses contain certain oils and chemicals that could cause more damage to your lips than beautify them. Lead is a particular favourite when it comes to red lipsticks, which often contains it in significant amounts. And the mineral oil found in the blend blocks the skin’s pores and interferes with skin development.


It is a well-known fact that coating your body with a liberal dose of the moisturizer helps block UV rays, and harmful pollutants from coming in contact with your skin. However, what is lesser known is that moisturizers and creams are packed with mineral oil and paraffin, both of which have been shown to clinically damage the skin barrier and increase moisture loss. Additionally, most of the popular brands of moisturizers and emollients contain high concentrations of detergents, and detergent-like chemicals, that not only damage the skin, but also degrade the skin’s natural protective function.

Nail Polish

Wearing heavy, dark, and shimmering nail polish because it gives you that glamorous look. However, it might be interesting to note that harsh colours such as red, or black, ruin the quality of your nail. Furthermore, nail polishes have a liberal dose of acetone in them, a chemical that is well known to weaken and damage nail strength.

Hair Colours

Hair colour can cause adverse allergic reactions such as hair loss, burning, redness, itchy scalp, facial swelling and breathing difficulty. Hair dyes contain many harmful chemicals dangerous to human health. One of the worst chemicals found in hair dyes is P-Phenylenediamine, a carcinogen that causes reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, allergies, immune-toxicity, irritation of skin, eyes, and/or lungs.

Deodorants & Antiperspirants

Scientific studies have shown that ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants are harmful for your skin and body. Deodorants cause irritation and redness which leads to itching and pigmentation of the skin. The harmful effects of antiperspirants are greater, owing to the aluminum compounds that block sweat glands, and lead to conditions like contact dermatitis, and allergy. They also block sweat glands from discharging sweat, which leads to further health complications.

Sangeeta Sundaresan | Contributing Writer

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