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Green Health and Beauty

Hazardous Skin Products

When it comes to skincare it can be difficult to choose the perfect products because there is so much choice out there. So much money is spent on advertising and marketing to make products stand out, and all the lotions and potions you see claim to be the best. The beauty industry is worth billions of dollars and there are new products emerging all the time, but how do you know which products to choose, which to trust and which rhetoric to believe?

One of the major problems people face when trying to choose their skincare products is a lack of knowledge about what has actually gone into the product. Labels are often filled with long chemical names which are often unfamiliar to anyone without a degree in science and this can be extremely confusing.

Chemicals can also be problematic and harm the skin, so it’s important to be aware of the composition of your skincare products and to take time to check out the different brands and research what chemicals they use. If you care about the environment and are keen to do your bit to preserve the planet, look out for organic, natural products which are likely to better for your complexion and gentler on skin.

Here are some skincare hazards to look out for:

Mercury moisturizer

This headline shocked many, but an investigation by the US Food and Drugs Administration revealed that imported skin creams on sale in the USA contained toxic levels of mercury and other metals. The most commonly identified product was skin-lightening cream, which is popular with people with darker skin who want their skin whiter. Experts advise consumers to avoid products with labels that do not contain any information about the ingredients.

Lipstick full of lead

This used to something of an urban rumor, but FDA investigations carried out as part of the Safe Cosmetics campaign showed that some lipsticks did contain traces of lead. Two investigations showed that all the lipsticks analysed contained lead, and we’re not talking tiny amounts. According to experts, using the lipstick in the recommended way would not cause problems, but this may not be the case if the lipstick somehow found its way into the body; for example, if you licked your lips.

Old mascara

Mascara should be replaced on a regular basis as keeping one for a long time can increase your risk of eye problems. This is due to bacteria collecting on the brush. Ideally you should try to replace your mascara at least once every 6 months.


Parabens are added to lots of skincare products because they are a cheap means of prolonging shelf-life. It is uncommon to see paraben listed in the ingredients, but often you will see chemical names ending with paraben; examples include methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. These are bad news for people with sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin try to stick to natural products developed specifically for this skin type.


Phthalates are a toxic ingredient present in some skincare products. Research shows that they may also be linked to an increased risk of cancer. L’Oreal has banned the use of phthalates but they may still be used by other skincare brands, so look at the labels carefully.

Artificial fragrances

Artificial fragrances are a common cause of skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin. Try to stick to natural fragrances or fragrance-free products.

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