Monday, December 16, 2013

Is My Makeup Killing Me? Lip Products

In this second edition of "Is My Makeup Killing Me", we will move away from the terrifying secrets of nail polish and instead explore the wonderful world of lip products! Hence forth all lip products (glosses, lipsticks, crayons, chapstick, etc. if it goes on your lips it counts) will be referred to as lippies. If you really think about it, lippies go right on your lips and a good chunk of it is actually ingested through the regular wear and tear as well as coming off while you're eating. I don't know about the rest of you but when I bite into a burger I always leave a nice lipstick mark on the bun which I go ahead and just eat anyways, ew, I know.

I must say lipsticks are pretty hazardous in some of the individual ingredients they list, but even the most learned health professionals caution that it is not the product it is bad, but just studies show that these ingredients may be linked to health risks. The biggest concern when it comes to lippies is parabens (which is a prevalent in most cosmetic products) so let's take a look at some of those, as well as some other hidden chemicals.

What are parabens?
Parabens are the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products such as lippies. Multiple parabens combined with other types of preservatives are used to protect against a broad range of microorganisms to protect them against microbial growth which helps increase their usability period as well as help maintain the integrity of the product. Some studies indicate the link between parabens and breast cancer in particular, but nothing concrete has been established on the relationship between the two. Below are the three most commonly used preservatives and the dangers they possess.
Methylparaben is a chemical has been linked to cancer and has the possibility to disrupt the endocrine system which is in charge of secreting hormones into your bloodstream.
Propylparaben is frequently reported to irritate skin and cause allergic reactions. There are also some studies that have shown signs for concern that it could disrupt endocrine activity and be linked to cancer and other toxic effects.
Butylparaben acts the most similarly to estrogen in the body which is a concern because mimicking this hormone could lead the chemical into sensitive areas. There are studies that indicate endocrine disruption, alter metabolic hormones, and be attributed to cancer.

While they sound alarming, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review has looked into the safety of using parabens concluding that they are safe up to a level of 25%, typically they are found in products ranging from 0.01 to 0.3%, drastically below the safe level. Next I would like to highlight a few other chemicals that may be a cause for concern.

Retinyl Palmitate is a synthetic form of vitamin A that may be toxic to pregnant women and evidence shows that limited exposure could be the cause of a range of health problems from cancer to reproductive issues.
D&C Red 36  and D&C Red 22 Aluminum Lake are colorants that has some research linking that exposure may cause nervous system damage and other health concerns.
Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, Aluminum are all metals found in commonly sold lippies at potentially toxic levels. These metals are linked to stomach tumors and a whole range of other health problems.

What can you do?
There's a great cosmetic database called Skin Deep that is managed by the Environmental Working Group, that maintains safety profiles of various products. You can search for things and get a full report on toxins in your makeup!
Be mindful about your lippies. Always blot before eating to limit the amount of product ingested, and limit your reapplications as much as possible.

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