Hidden health hazards in beauty products

Posted at 7:14 AM, Jul 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-30 07:51:42-04

NEW YORK (PIX11) -- There are risky ingredients in cosmetic and beauty products that may be difficult to detect just by looking at the bottle.

A closer read of the label can help shoppers avoid these dangerous chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens, according to an investigation by ShopSmart magazine.

To read the complete report from ShopSmart, click here.

Ingredients to watch for and why:

  • Formaldehyde: You’ll find this in hair straighteners, nail products and eyelash glues. It’s classified as a human carcinogen when inhaled.
  • Formaldehyde releasers and 1,4-dioxane: This is often found in anti-wrinkle creams, mascaras, makeup removers, hair conditions and body washes. It poses the same risk as formaldehyde.
  • Phthalates: Nail polishes, hair sprays, perfumes, deodorants, lotions and other products with “fragrance” as an ingredient contain this toxic substance that may pose reproductive and development-health risks.
  • Triclosan and triclocarban: You’ll find these ingredients in hand and body washes, deodorants, toothpastes and some cosmetics. They’re antibacterial agents that, in animal studies, have been show to affect reproductive growth and developmental systems. They may also be fueling an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Coal tar: This is found in dandruff shampoos and ointments to treat skin conditions such as eczema. Derived from coal, it’s a complex mix of chemical compounds and classified as a known human carcinogen.

Apps to help you decide:

Think Dirty (iOS): Scores products on a level of 0 to 10 (the worst) on the “Dirty Meter” based on the potential toxicity of its ingredients.

Skin Deep Cosmetics (Android and iOS): This app lets you search ingredients and product names and has information on known hazards for the ingredients listed in them.

GoodGuide (Androis and iOS): This app scores products based on health risks, impact to the environment and the maker’s social policies. Note: It makes money from companies by selling ads, but says its backers do not have the ability to influence scores.