Cosmetics refer to any substance added to the skin intended to improve the condition of the skin through substitution of some component that is normally present in it. Cosmetics can be based on topical application, inhalation, ingestion or injection. Cosmetics have been around for ages and their application ranges across all cultures and strata of the society. Cosmetics are governed by some international conventions that guarantee its safety and protection against harmful substances.
Cosmetics are usually comprised of a combination of synthetic chemical substances derived either from natural resources or chemically created ones. Some common synthetic ingredients used in cosmetics include parabens, dioxane, fragrances, alcohols, PEG (polyethylene glycol), mineral oils, waxes and dyes. The composition and application of cosmetics are usually for external use only. It may include some elements that are suitable for internal use like sunscreens, moisturizers, creams, lotions, eye and lip makeup. However, it is important to note that cosmetics are not considered drugs because they do not have medicinal applications buy here.
The active ingredients in cosmetics include humectants, emollients, exclusives and preservatives. Humectants are foam agents that are added to moisten and soften the skin during the initial phase of cosmetics application. Emollients are water-based humectants that provide a softening, smoothing and nourishing effect. Occlusives are ingredients that soften the skin through lubrication. Preservatives, on the other hand, play an active role in prolonging the shelf life of cosmetics include preservatives to ensure its efficacy and anti-bacterial properties to ensure its safety.
Some common preservatives used in cosmetics include benzyl peroxide, ethylene glycol, parabens and sodium laureth sulfate. Other preservatives commonly included in cosmetics include phthalates, sodium benzoate, IIC, IUD, TCE, triclosan and UVB rays. All these ingredients can have a cumulative effect on the body. Cosmetic manufacturers usually include the warning labels “avoid contact with the eyes”.
It is difficult to determine which chemicals from cosmetics and other consumer products are harmful or not. There are no regulatory requirements for testing cosmetics and other consumer products for harmful ingredients. Also, although the US FDA does not strictly monitor cosmetics, they do monitor manufacturers for safety regulations. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only requires manufacturers to list the presence of any naturally occurring ingredient on their packaging, but they do not regulate the use of chemicals on the label or in the cosmetics themselves.
Cosmetics manufacturers rely on advertising to convince people to purchase their products. However, this strategy has been found to be ineffective. A study showed that more than 90% of cosmetics contains some form of harmful chemical. These chemical ingredients may be carcinogenic, teratogenic or endocrine disruptors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The ingredients with the potential to cause health problems include parabens, phthalates, acrylamides, triclosan, fragrance ingredients, liquid binders and sodium lauryl sulfate, known as BPS.