Uncapping harmful effects posed by makeup

Attention on what goes into our body, not on it, shows double standard


Tremmel is a senior journalism and women’s studies double major and staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached at [email protected] or @jessietremmel.

Story by Jessie Tremmel, Staff Writer

In a society where makeup is expected, I was unaware of the damage I was causing to my body. It seems people are so engaged with what they put in their bodies that they forget that what they put on their bodies is equally harmful.

That Vanilla Mint ChapStick in your pocket ranks a 6 out of 10 in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, which rates chemicals in the skin care products many of us use daily. The CoverGirl LashBlast Mascara you so precisely applied this morning ranks a nine.

Both of these products contain propylparaben, a preservative in the paraben family that is used by food, pharmaceutical and personal care product industries, according to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental health research and advocacy organization. Parabens are used to prevent the growth of microbes in cosmetic products and can be absorbed through the skin, blood and digestive system, according to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The concern with parabens is that they are known to disrupt hormone function, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity, according to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Parabens are not the only enemy here. Diethanolamine, dibutyl phthalate and butylated hydroxyanisole are just three more examples. It seems to me there are harmful chemicals in the majority of makeup we use.

When I found out that nail polish containing dibutyl phyhalate, which can also be found in PVC piping, could be building up harmful toxins in my body, I tossed  out all of my nail polish.

That realization prompted me to dig through my makeup collection. Let’s just say most of it ended up in the garbage. Not wanting to be totally without options for that early morning after a late night scramble to finish a paper, I researched makeup that would be good for my body and my long-term health.

Being informed about what you are adding to your body is important when there are limited FDA regulations. The FDA website states, “cosmetic manufacturers may use any ingredient they choose, except for a few ingredients that are prohibited by regulation.” The FDA also states they see no health hazard in the use of parabens.

While parabens are not the only dangerous chemical in the products we use daily, you can be sure to protect yourself by selecting “paraben-free” products next time you run out of your usuals.

Another option is to switch to vegan products, which are natural, organic and animal cruelty-free. These health-conscious products will likely cost a bit more than you are used to spending on makeup.

To me, the added cost is worth protecting my body from chemicals that could affect my well being in the future. I don’t think the risk is worth saving a couple dollars.