Fact: The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) does not regulate or assess pre-market safety of cosmetic ingredients except for color additives. It is the responsibility of cosmetic manufacturers to substantiate the safety of their products prior to market launch. Even product recalls are made voluntarily by the manufacturers. Sad but true.

Fact: Knowledge is power. As a consumer, we need to be aware of these harmful ingredients that are commonly present in  makeups, skincare and other personal care products. 

  • Paraben:  most widely used preservative in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. It has bactericidal and fungicidal components. It is commonly found in shampoo, underarm deodorant, moisturizer, topical products, toothpaste. For people who are sensitive to paraben, it may cause contact dermatitis and rosacea 
  • Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES): found in a gamut of personal care products like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. It is inexpensive and is an effective detergent/foaming agent. It is generally safe in small concentration levels but have been found to cause eye and skin irritation 
  • Triclosan: an antibacterial and antifungal agent. It is present in soap, toothpaste, deodorant, mouth wash, cleaning supplies, etc. A 2010 study linked Triclosan to contact dermatitis. In 2009, the Canadian Medical Association asked its government to ban the use of triclosan in household cleaning products because of reported bacterial resistance
  • DMDM hydantoin: is an antimicrobial formaldehyde releaser preservative. It is widely used in cosmetics as a preservative and to prevent bacterial spoilage. It is present in shampoos, conditioners, bath products,  moisturizers, makeups and other skincare products. Although safe in low concentrations, there have been serious reports linking it to dermatitis
  • Triethanolamine: primarily used as emulsifier and surfactant. It balances pH in many cosmetic products such as cleansing cream, lotion, moisturizer, eye gel, shampoo, shaving foams, etc. Several studies linked it to dermatitis. Another study also cited it as a potential carcinogen
  • Fragrance: Synthetic or otherwise should be avoided especially by people who have sensitive skin. It can cause contact dermatitis and irritation.

As a general rule, always read product label and test if you must. If you experience irritation, discontinue using and see your doctor.

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