The average woman uses 12 products containing 168 different ingredients daily. Many cosmetic chemicals are designed to penetrate into the skin’s inner layers, and they do. Consequently, some common cosmetic ingredients turn up in people’s bodies. Among them: industrial plasticizers called phthalates; parabens, which are preservatives; and persistent fragrance components like musk xylene.
Are levels found in our bodies causing biological damage? Only more research can say. Several studies have linked feminization of American baby boys to a common fragrance chemical called diethyl phthalate.
Avoid: Alpha and beta hydroxy acids (lactic acid and glycolic acid)
FDA-sponsored studies find UV-caused skin damage doubles for users of products with alpha hydroxy acid. Regular sunscreen application is the best way to avoid sun-damaged skin.
Minimize use of dark, permanent hair dyes. Many contain coal tar ingredients, including aminophenol, diaminobenzene, and phenylenediamine, linked to cancer.
Avoid skin lighteners with hydroquinone. FDA warns that this skin-bleaching chemical can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with “disfiguring and irreversible” blue-black lesions on exposed skin.
Illegally imported skin lighteners can contain mercury, which can poison adults and children and is especially toxic during pregnancy. Be wary of imported skin lighteners, don’t buy products without ingredients clearly labeled, and always avoid products with “mercury,” “calomel”, “mercurio” or “mercurio chloride”.
Chemical hair straighteners
Many hair straightening treatments use harsh or toxic ingredients, and make misleading safety claims. We recommend you avoid chemical hair straighteners.
If you choose to use, avoid keratin treatments.