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168 chemicals you unknowingly smeared on your face this morning
You may be great at reading food labels to see exactly what you are eating, but are you as diligent when it comes to items in your makeup bag? - photo by Emily Cummings
The makeup counter can be daunting; hundreds of brands and products can make picking out a new tube of mascara quite the task. Heres a quick solution to the struggle: Knowing exactly whats in that mascara -- and other products -- can make your decision easier.

The facts:

If youre the average woman (like in this study,) you use about 12 beauty products every day. That may sound like a lot, but its not hard to count that many if you walk through your morning routine. Think beyond your makeup; things like perfumes, deodorant, shaving creams and hair sprays should be looked at, and looked at closely. As it turns out, your average 12 makeup, hair and moisturizer products expose you to 168 unique ingredients on a daily basis.


That's a big and scary number -- but not all of these chemicals are harmful. Some of them are, however. You would think that ingredients are regulated, but thats not quite the case. Federal regulations for chemicals in cosmetics and other products havent been reviewed since the 1930s.

The culprits:

Testing has revealed that common ingredients in everyday creams, sprays, gels or powders have some unfortunate consequences to the human body. The so-called "dirty dozen" of harmful ingredients makes a concise list of things to look out for when shopping for your personal care products. Heres a few ingredients to show exactly what youre putting on your skin:

Paraben is found in the majority of makeups, and is used as a preservative. However, this ingredient has been shown to disrupt hormones, damage DNA and even increase the risk of skin aging.

Commonly found parfum (fragrance) has been shown to potentially increase the chance of cancer, and can trigger asthma or allergies. Most foaming body washes and shampoos use SLS, or sodium laureth sulfate, which is a known carcinogen.

Even if the levels of toxins are low in your makeup, they still pose dangers. Your bright red lipstick? More of it ends up in your stomach than youd like to think, and it may contain ingredients like lead. Brand new facial cream? Along with mercury, many products have active ingredients that help the skin to absorb the product and the chemicals that come along with it. A study done with 20 teenagers demonstrated just how many chemicals may be running through our bloodstreams.

What you can do:

Luckily, there are those who are looking to change all of this. Theres a push for an amendment to regularize what is being put into the products we use. While this may not change things for a while, there are ways you can keep an eye on what you are putting on your face.

Through a cosmetic database, you can check the "safety rating" of your products a handy tip to see how safe your lipstick really is. This database is full of information that you can use to compare products and find out more about how to keep your skin and your family safe from harmful chemicals. Additionally, you can also support companies that do not support animal testing, and choose to truly use organic and natural ingredients instead of harmful chemicals.
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