Photo Cred: Thuy Le
Article by, Alexandria Haynes
For most of my upbringing, I had a minimalist approach to both my beauty regimen and my makeup product application. This was in large part due to the fact that all while growing up I was taught “you don't put anything on your hair or skin that you wouldn't put in your body”. Later on, I learned there was some truth to this, humans can absorb up to 60% of everything we put on our skin, and children can potentially absorb 40-50% times that, so what goes on your body was essentially what goes IN your body.
Like many people I knew; if I struggled to read the names of the ingredients on the back of the packaging I became skeptical and would ultimately put the product back down. I have since learned that this method is not entirely accurate when looking for healthier makeup options. As it is not always easy to read the labels, which are typically using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) labeling system, and can differ vastly from the more commonly recognized names. For example: Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil is actually just Tea Tree Oil.
“The INCI is a system of names for waxes, oils, pigments, chemicals, and other ingredients of soaps, cosmetics, and such, based on scientific names and other Latin and English words.” In the U.S. INCI names are mandated under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act so the consumer can identify the ingredient contents of their cosmetic products.
What to Look For in the Product Ingredients?
While helpful with ingredient transparency, the INCI labeling made things a bit difficult to figure out what to look for in a product, and what to avoid like the plague!
Through my research of various beauty brands, I found it most helpful to tell the quality and general safety of a product by looking at how the product itself is maintained, typically through its use of preservatives.
What is a Preservative?
A preservative is a natural or synthetic ingredient that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products to prevent spoilage, whether from microbial growth or undesirable chemical changes.
Why are they Used?
Some form of preservative use is essential for beauty products to prevent both product damage caused by bacteria, and to protect the product itself from unintentional contamination by the user. Adding preservatives to makeup products protects them from the damage and degradation caused by repeated exposure to oxygen and other contaminants. Without preservatives, cosmetic products, much like food, would become spoiled and would likely produce irritation or infections of the skin, which could cause significant and lasting health problems. The cosmetics industry uses hundreds of harmful preservatives and chemicals in its products, so buyers need to be wary because the short and long term effects of some of these chemicals have been linked to:
- Skin Allergies, Cancer, Birth Defects, Infertility, Reproductive problems, & Learning disabilities.
Five Preservative Chemicals to Look Out For!
Parabens are the most commonly used preservative in cosmetics. It is known to mimic estrogen, can be absorbed through the skin, and according to the Breast Cancer Awareness Fund “has been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors”.
Bismuth oxychloride is a synthetically prepared powder used in cosmetics because of its capability to create white pigments, shimmery looks, its silky feel, and for its excellent ability to adhere to skin. Material Safety Data Sheets has it listed as a known cause of irritation for the skin. It can cause redness, irritation, rashes, and acne in the makeup user.
Butylated Compounds (BHT, BHA)
BHA and BHT are used as preservatives in dozens of products to extend their shelf life. These chemicals may induce skin allergies, and are linked to organ, developmental, and reproductive toxicity. In some situations, this additive can promote the growth of tumors.
Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives
Primarily used to preserve dead bodies, formaldehyde may be making its way into your makeup to help prevent microbes from growing in your water-based products. However, it can be absorbed through the skin and has been linked to cancer and allergic skin reactions.
This is the most common moisture-carrying ingredient, excluding water itself, in personal care products. It is extensively used in makeup. It is has been known to elicit allergic reactions including hives, and is associated with eczema.
Healthier All-Natural Alternatives?
Since researching various common drugstore brands and their harmful ingredients, I try to avoid brands that include the aforementioned ingredients. Instead, I have found that brands such as NU EVOLUTION Cosmetics which uses natural preservatives instead like: lemon peel extract, rosemary leaf extract, oregano leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract, lavender, or cinnamon which is a natural anti-bacterial, provides me with a strong and much safer alternative.
After years of extensive research, NU EVOLUTION Cosmetics is a brand, which specializes, in All-natural alternatives without compromise on makeup quality. With sophisticated color pallets in the silky smooth textures, we all crave, makeup company NU EVOLUTION is cruelty-free and made with natural & organic, easy to read ingredients. They have a list of all banned substances from their products on their website making your job easier!
Ensuring you have safe, quality makeup, without having to basically become a chemistry major, has been nearly impossible in past years. Thankfully with a brand like NU EVOLUTION, the guesswork has now been taken out of your healthy makeup selection process, and you can once again focus on finding your best shade of eye shadow.
Long story short, don't let your health suffer for fashion when you don't have to. Beauty should not come at the cost of your health. Ever!