These days, we tend to think most of our cosmetics are safe — after all, gone are the days of arsenic green dresses, and abrasive lye soaps. Still, though, there are a surprising amount of hidden dangers out there — so, how might your beauty products be messing with your health? They say beauty is pain, but I think we can all draw a line where our personal health and safety is concerned.
Unfortunately, as with anything worth truly enjoying in life, beauty products are home to a whole host of unsavory drawbacks. The side effects can range in seriousness from a pesky flaky scalp and itchy eyes, to potential mercury poisoning and oral herpes — none of which can exactly be described as walks in the park.
All of the above adverse side effects are to be avoided at all costs — because no matter how amazingly doll-like that mascara makes your eyes look, it's time to toss it if it causes irritation. Full stop. Same goes for that amazing new acne treatment, and your favorite purple hair dye, alas. So, what exactly to avoid to skirt all of these cosmetic-driven health woes? Read on to find out how some of your favorite beauty products and habits may be affecting your health.
1. Lining The Waterline Can Breed Infection
2. Expired Mascara Could Cause Irritation
The jury's out on exactly how long mascara lasts — some say a mere three months, while others argue it's more like six — but using an old tube can cause major eye irritation and even infection, which is never any fun for anyone.
3. Sharing Lipstick Could Pass Infections...
Did you know herpes could be passed with lipstick, according to Cosmo? Yeah, I'm never sharing my favorite tubes again.
4. ...And So Can Used Eyeliner
OK, so eyeliners can't cause herpes, but they can pass conjunctivitis (AKA pink eye), according to Vision Source, so it's best to keep these to yourself as well.
5. Nail Polish Might Contain "The Toxic Trio"
Some nail polishes contain the toxic trio — dibutyl phthalate and toluene (both of which may cause birth defects), as well as formaldehyde, according to WebMD. Now, of course, the concentrations are generally small enough that you probably don't have to worry if any of your current faves contain these ingredients. But if you're concerned, look out for nail polish brands that make "three-free" products.
6. Phthalates Might Have Adverse Effects On The Body
Speaking of dibutyl phthalate, some of its chemical relatives may also pose cause for concern. Often found in soaps, body washes, shampoos, and other cosmetics, the effects of phthalates aren't fully known — but they have been shown to affect the reproductive systems of certain lab animals, according to the CDC.
7. Some Skin Creams Contain Mercury
Mercury in your skin cream? Sounds like an urban legend — but unfortunately, it's not. Certain non-FDA-approved "skin lighteners" rely on mercury to even the complexion and fade dark spots. Yikes.
8. Some Hair Dye Chemicals Can Cause Allergies
According to WebMD, hair dyes that contain p-phenylenediamine and ammonium persulfate should be used with caution, as those ingredients have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people.
9. Alpha-Hydroxy Acids Aren't Always Good For The Skin
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, or AHAs, are quite popular for exfoliation these days — but they can damage your skin and/or cause irritation when used in too high a concentration. Especially look out for products that have concentrations of AHAs higher than 10 percent, according to WebMD.
10. Retinoids Could Make You More Vulnerable To The Sun
Similarly, retinoids (another exfoliant) may cause some problems for sensitive skin, according to WebMD. Commonly used to treat acne and wrinkles, it also causes sun sensitivity, and can create irritation if used incorrectly.
11. Lip Balm Could Actually Dry Out Your Lips
As it turns out, Vitamin E and other popular lip balm ingredients can actually dry out your lips instead of hydrating them, according to Beauty Editor, and a few have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people.