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The Presence of Carcinogens in Beauty Products

by Joanne Coffey |

True or False? It is 100% legal to have carcinogens in our beauty products.


It’s a sad truth. Carcinogens are ingredients that are linked to causing cancer. Over time, our body is exposed to thousands of chemicals daily. When you mix your skincare together such as toner, eye cream, moisturizers, and serums on your face, individually they might work. Although, layering multiple formulas and ingredients on your face might be more dangerous than you think. We’ll go over the most common used carcinogens, the health risks of chemicals in cosmetics, and how Aisling Organics is working to help those who have been affected by cancer.

The FDA does not protect consumers from the long term effects of carcinogens in cosmetics. Super safe right? The main carcinogen to be on the lookout for is formaldehyde, which is used as a preservative in makeup, hair, body, and skincare products. This is actually one of the carcinogenic ingredients that made our CEO sick before she founded Aisling Organics. 

I had nausea and migraines every day for years, and it wasn't until I investigated that I ended up discovering it was due to my cosmetics. The products I had been using contained heavy metals, formaldehyde, antifreeze and more. Cosmetics aren't regulated, therefore, you could have a bottle of formaldehyde with a label that says "organic" on the front and no one will say a thing." - Krysta Lewis, CEO of Aisling Organics

 

Formaldehyde Explained

To make matters worse, formaldehyde is never listed on ingredient labels; what’s listed is the chemicals in formulas that release formaldehyde (when added to water, they slowly decompose, forming molecules of formaldehyde). Here’s what to look for: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, quaternium-15.

Cara Bondi, a green scientist at seventh generation spoke about formaldehyde in a goop article saying “ you won't see formaldehyde listed on labels because there is a class of preservatives that are known to be formaldehyde-releasers. The way these preservatives work is that you put them into the formula, they go through a series of chemical reactions, and then they release formaldehyde into the formula.”

 

Other carcinogens to look out for

We already covered formaldehyde, but that’s just the most common carcinogen living within your products. There is also Glyphosate, 1-4 Dioxane, Styrene, and Lead to be on the lookout for.

Glyphosate is more recently talked about carcinogen after The International Agency on Research for Cancer (IARC) released that it should be a concern for consumers. Glyphosate is an herbicide that can be found in most auto shops because it’s one of the most commonly used herbicides in agriculture. 1-4 Dioxane can be found in products that create suds like shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath, etc. You can look for it on ingredient labels as Sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds, chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth, and oleth. A study by the Organic Consumers Association shows that 1,4-dioxane is nonexistent in a variety of cosmetics certified under the USDA National Organic Program. 

Styrene is actually a very commonly used ingredient in fragrances. But don’t worry, if you’re a ride or die Clean Beauty Queen you know our Eco-Luxe Foundation has an amazing vanilla and cocoa scent. Our ingredients in our foundation are naturally derived because of the ingredients in our foundation, nothing synthetic here. Styrene is one to watch out for because the International Fragrance Association releases a list of every ingredient their membership is using, including the biggest manufacturers in the world, and styrene is on the list. 

Lead is a popular known toxin with the horror stories of it being in paint, and even worse, chrildrens toys as a colorant! It also lives within lipsticks, which is scary because women eat on average 1 pound of lipstick PER YEAR! While there’s some research to suggest that it’s a probable human carcinogen, the real problem with lead is that it’s a neurotoxin that can lead to learning disabilities and developmental disorders.

 

Is there hope that these chemicals will be banned?

The IARC is an intergovernmental agency that is part of the World Health Organization. IARC’s mission is to enhance collaboration in cancer research internationally. It is continuously working to publish their research for companies to be held accountable for the ingredients they are using. 

In the meantime, there are steps YOU can take to prevent these chemicals from entering your body as much as possible.  Make sure to read your labels and ingredients and avoid cosmetics containing formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. These include quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol. Other ingredients to stay away from are phenacetin, coal tar, benzene, untreated or mildly treated mineral oils, ethylene oxide, chromium, cadmium and its compounds, arsenic and crystalline silica (or quartz).  

 

How Aisling Organics Gives Back to Cancer Patients

Lipstick Angels is an organization that provides beauty services to cancer patients. The company utilizes nurturing beauty services and physical touch to restore and strengthen seriously ill patients undergoing debilitating treatments such as chemotherapy. Specifically, Lipstick angels provides personalized one-on-one beauty and skincare services by professional makeup artists and estheticians at the patient’s bedside or while they are receiving chemotherapy infusions. At Aisling Organics, we donate a portion of all proceeds to Lipstick angels as this cause is very near and dear to our hearts. 

 

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