Companies are meant to use an organic label only if the ingredients are certified-organic. This is a no-brainer, right? But the beauty industry is so shockingly unregulated that you often don’t know what to believe.

Face cream, lipstick, mascara and even body wash are often labelled ‘clinically tested’ or ‘clinically proven’ and words such as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ claim various falsehoods.

Here are some ingredients you need to be aware of:

1. Beware of lead poisoning. Lead is commonly found in lipstick and hair dye. It will never be listed as an ingredient because it’s a contaminant. This is extremely troubling considering how much lipstick we swallow annually.

2. Phalates. Commonly found in fragrances, nail polish, deodorants and lotions, this common contaminant is linked to endocrine disruptors and can increase your chances of breast cancer, especially during early breast development in girls and reproductive birth defects in males and females.

Look out for the following labels to avoid this contaminant: ‘dibutyl phthalate’ in nail polish, ‘diethyl phthalate’ in perfumes and lotions, and ‘dimethyl phthalate in hair spray’ 

3.  Your eyeliner can damage your eyesight. Eye pencils can contain oils, silicones, gums and waxes that can build up on the inner rims of your eyelids. This can cause eye irritation, redness, bacterial infections and even blurred vision. Properly remove eye make-up before bed and sharpen your eyeliner pencil before each application to remove some bacteria.

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4.    Some lipsticks contain coal tar. We love our colourful lipsticks and never feel fully dressed without it. But many dark and pastel tone synthetic coloured lippies are derived from coal tar. Tar can cause cancer and is toxic to your organ system. 

5.    Silicone-derived emollients are used to make products feel soft, making skin and hair feel smooth and silky. The only problem is that silicone emollients are occlusive and non-biodegradable. When applied, it forms a coating that prevents the skin and hair from breathing. It’s the equivalent of a plastic wrap and is linked to tumour growth and skin irritation. 

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6.    Talc is an anti-caking agent commonly used in baby powder, eye shadow and blush. Similar in composition to asbestos, it has been linked to tumours, ovarian cancer and respiratory problems when inhaled. But all research does not agree. Some also suggests that links between talc and cancer is far-fetched. If you do choose to continue using products containing talc, try opting for companies that ensure their talc is asbestos free.

7.    Toulene is usually a clear and aromatic liquid solvent used in nail care products. It is infamously known to cause cancer and birth defects in pregnant women. This is a sneaky substance because it is often hidden underneath other fragrances. 

8.    Ever wondered why your soap is foamy? It contains Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES. It absorbs into the skin and may cause irritation and dryness.  Overall, it’s a low health hazard but it’s best to be safe rather than sorry. 

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9.    Hand sanitisers aren’t so sanitary after all. Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical often found in antibacterial products and deodorants. It disrupts the thyroid and reproductive hormones.  Ditching antibacterial soaps may be a good thing, according to the Huffington Post, there is no sufficient evidence supporting that triclosan provides any benefits over regular soaps.

*This article has been updated.

For more on skincare and beauty:

We ditched our normal beauty routines for organic products

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