Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on your lotions, makeup and other cosmetics and wondered if all that stuff is really safe?
Modern beauty products have evolved to be extremely effective and long-lasting, but this sometimes come at a cost. As a conscientious consumer, however, you want to know what you’re putting on your skin. Of course, most of the ingredients in everyday products are considered safe. BUT, there is also a chance some unsavory substances are lurking in your beauty supplies. An especially scary possibility? Formaldehyde.
What is Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is actually a gas, but it is most often used in a liquid solution. It is a known carcinogen, and can also cause skin irritation.
What is it Used For?
Ever dissected a frog, pig, or other animal in Biology class? It was probably floating in a formaldehyde solution. Yuck! Formaldehyde is mainly used as a preservative, as it can ensure an extremely long shelf life for beauty products–among other things. Who would want that on their skin? Yet it’s found in a surprising number of popular products.
What Products Contain Formaldehyde?
Even as far back as 2010, formaldehyde was a problem in beauty products. Studies showed that as many as 20% of beauty products contained the substance, a staggering 1 in 5 products. Even now, it can be found in soaps, lotions, makeup, hair treatments, nail hardeners, and more.
Want to know the worst part about formaldehyde in beauty products? It’s not always called formaldehyde on the label. The scariest ingredients are the formaldehyde releasers, which are substances that give off carcinogenic formaldehyde over time. They’re effective preservatives, and companies don’t have to directly let on they’re using toxic substances in your products.
The FDA doesn’t do much to restrict the use of these chemicals, not even limiting the amount that goes into your beauty supplies. So be very wary!
While some countries, such as those in the European Union, do more to protect consumers against formaldehyde releasers, other countries have no restrictions, and “formaldehyde” may be listed as an ingredient with no attempt to mask it.
How Bad Is It?
Of course, the formaldehyde releasers are typically used in tiny amounts in beauty products, and by themselves, they may not cause lasting harm. But they are being put right on your body, which can make exposure more harmful over time. Additionally, there are other sources of formaldehyde we come into contact with regularly, and the combined effects can increase risks. Cutting out a source of the carcinogen in beauty products is an easy way to cut down on overall exposure.
How to Avoid It
While the formaldehyde releasers can try to hide, you’re too smart for that. Some of the ingredients you should look for include:
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Bronopol (2–bromo–2–nitropropane–1,3-diol )
The bottom line? Don’t stop checking those ingredient lists–they may just save you from a nasty toxin.
Safe Products: Get Advice
Formaldehyde isn’t the only preservative out there, and some manufacturers are taking notice of public opinion on the subject, removing the product from their formulas. If you’re concerned about choosing safe, effective products, then it may be time to seek expert advice from a qualified dermatologist.
Choosing the Right Dermatologist
You may not have thought about seeing a dermatologist if you’re not having skin problems, but a skilled cosmetic dermatologist can help you keep your skin healthy and looking youthful for many years.
Dr. Diane Walder is a nationally acclaimed authority on skincare and cosmetic dermatology, often featured in national publications such as Glamour, Vogue, and Allure. Dr. Walder offers cosmetic treatments, custom advice, and effective skincare products to a distinguished client base. If you would like to schedule a consultation at her Miami offices, call (305-866-2177) today to make an appointment.