5 Scary Facts About Your Makeup 

It might be safer to eat your body cream than wear it! Find out the real price you’re paying for beauty.

Updated
Health News
4 min read
 Can your makeup make you sick? (Photo: iStock)

It’s better to arrive late than ugly, right? Perhaps that’s why an average Indian metropolitan woman uses 5-10 beauty products before leaving the house. (Source: ASSOCHAM). But what’s the real price of the expensive products that you just can’t do without?

The stuff in your bathroom makes you look and smell better. But it kinda falls into the same category as, say, a sausage. You don’t wanna know what it’s made of as long as it isn’t visibly harmful. But aren’t you curious about what makes these cosmetics so fabulous? How do spa products give you the perfect tresses?

Here are five scary facts which will alter your love for makeup forever:

1. Cosmetics Are Not Approved by the US-FDA



Cosmetics aren’t subject to the same oversight as food and pharmaceuticals, according to the Food & Drug Administration (Photo: iStock)
Cosmetics aren’t subject to the same oversight as food and pharmaceuticals, according to the Food & Drug Administration (Photo: iStock)

Not even your super expensive Mac or YSL! Yes, that’s right! The Maggi episode has exposed how inadequate the Indian food and drug regulations are. But you must’ve heaved a sigh of relief thinking- at least the luxury imports from the US like MAC, Chambor and Coco Chanel products would be safe on your million dollar skin. Wrong!

The United States Food & Drug Administration does not approve of cosmetic ingredients because, well, they’re not food or drugs. Which means ingredients banned in some of the stricter countries of Europe and Australia (think parabens, which are linked to breast cancer; ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen; and octinoxate) are totally OK for use in America, India and most of the developing world.

In-fact the US FDA’s Cosmetic Act is a 77 year old archaic piece of legislation with zero regulations and has not been modified since 1938.

Simply put: In most of Europe (which has relatively tougher cosmetic laws) 1,373 cosmetic chemicals are banned. While in the US, only 8 (no kidding!) and in India, sab chalta hai, of course!

2. Cosmetics Aren’t Legally Required to be Tested

What’s on your face? From shampoos to conditioners, leave-ins, shaving creams, makeup; do you know how many toxic chemicals you ingest before your morning chai? (Photo: iStock)
What’s on your face? From shampoos to conditioners, leave-ins, shaving creams, makeup; do you know how many toxic chemicals you ingest before your morning chai? (Photo: iStock)

Formaldehyde - Remember biology classes in school? Formaldehyde is used as a preservative in the embalming process. In 2011 it was found to be a human carcinogen. In 2016, it will be banned from the cosmetic industry in Europe and Australia. But we can’t say that for the rest of the developing world.

Given that the FDA does not have any legal authority to approve cosmetics, thousands of beauty products invade supermarkets and have never been reviewed or publicly questioned by any government body.

Manufacturers have a moral responsibility towards ensuring that the product is safe. But they cannot be brought to books even if they mix poison in your foundation! (slight exaggeration, but you get the drift right?)

3. Labels Don’t Mean a Thing!

With the FDA having no labeling laws, it is totally up-to the manufacturers to reveal or conceal whatever they wish to (and we know how well that works!)

Infact the US Environment Working Group, says, it might be safer to eat your body cream than to wear it! Our skin is the most permeable organ of the body and any chemical on the skin could directly enter the blood stream. But if eaten, the enzymes in our guts can break them down. So you could slap a product that makes you glow green in the dark with a label that reads ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ if you like and no one will stop you! (Although anything with the Australian Certified Organic sticker guarantees it almost upto 95%).

4. Fragrance Can Mean Anything

There is no way for us to know the true toxic nature of the ingredients in a perfume. (Photo: iStock)
There is no way for us to know the true toxic nature of the ingredients in a perfume. (Photo: iStock)

In makeup land, fragrance is fragrance. And it’ll be labeled as such. Think of the term as a catch-all. It can mean anything from a couple of natural oils to a straight-up toxic chemical concoction from a lab. You just wouldn’t know.

5. ‘Organic’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Does

Cosmetics aren’t packed foods where ‘organic’ means ‘natural’ (Photo: iStock)
Cosmetics aren’t packed foods where ‘organic’ means ‘natural’ (Photo: iStock)

There isn’t a standard definition for ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ in the Cosmetics Act. There are certain programs though, like the USDA Organic logo, that certifies bath and beauty products. But definitions vary from program to program and basically they’re all over the place. So we’re really left to the mercy of the manufacturer of a fragrance. And while we’re at it, read up you animal lovers. There are no legal definitions of ‘Cruelty Free’ or ‘Not Tested On Animals’ either!

And now get this: An average Indian metropolitan woman uses 5-10 beauty products before leaving the house. That means you’re exposing yourself to more than 200 chemicals, even before your morning chai!

Damn! BRB, scrubbing!

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