AN ENVIRONMENTAL group has repeatedly warned the public about the dange posed by certain beauty products. Most, if not all of these dangerous products, are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As reported in this paper last July, the EcoWaste Coalition went to Angeles City on July 14 to check if products banned by the FDA are being sold there.

The group reportedly bought eight skin whitening creams which exceeded the 1 pm allowable limit for mercury as contaminant in cosmetics. The items were all imported, unregistered and lacking market authorization from the FDA. They reported their findings to Angeles City Mayor Carmelo "Pogi" Lazatin Jr., who immediately issued an advisory to the public. The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) has also confiscated FDA-banned cosmetics products from two distributors which are now facing closure.

Well, it's easy to ban items that are not FDA-sanctioned. How about beauty products that are FDA approved? Are they safe to use? If the information I read in the internet are true, then we should be careful. In fact, I found out that the hair dye I am using contains chemicals that maybe harmful to health. Ouch! I am now pondering whether to continue using it or not.

When buying beauty products, check the ingredients in the label. I found these tips from an article in the website which can be used as a guide.

Parabens: "Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. They can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, and personal lubricants. Parabens have been found to cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis, or allergic skin reactions," according to Wikipedia. There was also a study showing parabens present in breast cancer tissue samples, this was linked to use of underarm deodorants, but many say there needs to be more research carried out before a causal link between parabens in cosmetics and breast cancer can be proven. These chemicals might be listed as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben or butylparaben.

Phthalates: This group of industrial chemicals is linked to birth defects and is used in many cosmetic products from nail polish to deodorant. Phthalates are not listed as ingredients on product labels; they can only be detected through laboratory analysis. The FDA says it has not found concerning links between phthalates and health risks. Two of the most toxic phthalates, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and Di(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), have been banned from cosmetics products sold in the European Union but remain unregulated in the US.

Petroleum: "Mineral oil and petroleum are the basic ingredients in many cosmetic products today. Both mineral oil and petroleum have the same origins in fossils fuels. Cosmetics such as foundations, cleansers, and moisturizers often contain mineral oil. By locking moisture against the skin, mineral oil sits on the skin's surface and can potentially block pores. This may cause the appearance of pimples because the skin cannot properly "breathe." Fragrances in lotions, shampoos, and many other cosmetic products are composed of aromatic hydrocarbons. Perfumes and products containing fragrance can contain many hundreds of chemicals to produce a distinct scent. A significant number of these aromas are derived from petroleum. One popular chemical additive that carries moisture in cosmetics is propylene glycol. It is also a derivative of petroleum. Past research links propylene glycol to serious health problems as liver and kidney damage as well as respiratory irritation or nausea if swallowed.

Carcinogenic coloring: The Environmental Working Group found that 71 hair dye products contain ingredients derived from carcinogenic coal tar. Coal tar hair dyes are one of the few products for which FDA has issued consumer advice on the benefits of reducing use, in this case as a way to potentially "reduce the risk of cancer" (FDA 1993).

Oh well, I guess it's time to display my white hairs again.