By Vivian A. Kominos, M.D., FACC
About 10 years ago, I was surprised to learn that my lipstick contained lead! This brought up images of the children I had treated during my pediatric rotations with lead poisoning. Lead can lead to brain damage, kidney damage, high blood pressure and other diseases. Was the makeup company trying to poison me? It turns out that the lead in lipstick finds its way there by accident through pigments. The pigments are washed free of most of the lead leaving only a small amount. But no one knows that there is any safe amount of lead. We are exposed to lead through air, water and food so why electively add more lead through lipstick?
I went on a quest to find the safest makeup possible which led to an increased awareness of potentially toxic chemicals in other products I used for my body and my home.
Our skin has an enormous surface area. It is the largest organ in our body. A lot of what we put on our skin can be absorbed, enabling us to use the skin as a mode of entry into the bloodstream for certain drugs. Some chemicals cannot be absorbed due to their size, but many of the products found in cleansers, moisturizers and makeup are designed to be absorbed. That is how they exert their skin plumping, wrinkle releasing and deep cleansing effects. But some of these compounds can cause skin irritations or allergies, disrupt hormones, damage skin and increase risk for cancer.
The Environmental Working Group reviews many products and ranks them according to their safety. Although the list of unsafe ingredients is too long, there are a few general guidelines:
- Opt for products that have few ingredients
- Use fewer products
- Just because something is labeled as “natural” or “gentle” it doesn’t mean that it is safe
- Avoid tricolosan, fragrance, parabens, toluenes and oxybenzone
Stay safe while enhancing your beauty and click here for more information.