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What's Really On Your Face?

I recently saw an article a friend sent to me regarding the harmful ingredients in make-up and at first I thought this doesn’t really affect me because I barely wear make-up. Pretty much, I choose the extra 10-15 minutes in bed whenever I can squeeze that in but after reading it, it changed my outlook on a lot of products that I use from simple things like mascara, eye liner, lip balm and extending it to my body and face lotion. I was shocked to find out that the products I thought were good for my skin were doing more harm than good and the ones I expected to be harmful were actually good for your skin, so I thought why not share.

 Dena Takruri (Journalist) posted a video on YouTube where she did research on the make-up items she uses every day to find out what exactly she puts on her face and how harmful it is. Through her research which was conducted by Breast Cancer Fund, found that out of 12 products used, there were 126 unique chemicals women expose themselves to everyday. Some of those ingredients include coal tar, carbon black, lead and formaldehyde. These chemicals are linked to health issues such as infertility, cancer, birth defects and play around with our hormones (like we need more of that!). Dena also found that the beauty industry does not require cosmetic companies to prove that a product is safe… so wait, this makes us their test bunnies, if it works, great, if not, what happens?

Well, this shocked me too. Cosmetic companies are actually not required to take the products off the shelves if they are found to be unsafe but it is up to the company to do so (let’s hope they think more about our health than their pockets). I thought this was a lie so I did some extra research myself and I was surprised at what I found. According to the UK trading standards, the main responsibility for product safety falls on the producers; our only protection is our legal right to sue the company if any harm is caused. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t really help if the damage is already done.

Anyway, more shocking was finding out more about these ingredients. Some of the same chemicals used in our cosmetic or personal care products are the same used to sterilise surgical equipment, stabilise plastics and even grease gears (if I knew this, I would have used my Carmex to sort out my stiff gears in my little Peugeot than spend a fortune at a mechanic’s). The one good fact that came out of the research was that the EU has over 11,300 banned chemicals to use in cosmetics (sigh of relief) whilst in the US only 11 are banned. An industry expert also concluded that even if you fork out more, so buying more expensive brands including those with organic labels does not mean it is any safer than the £1 eyeliner I always get from the chemist. So how can we avoid these most harmful products?

So let’s break down the products some use every day and the potential harmful contents they contain.


  • Heavy Metals including arsenic and titanium dioxide which is implied to cause cancer when inhaled (scary)


  • Formaldehyde and mineral oils that are derived from crude oil (sounds sticky)


  • Lead and arsenic which are linked to cancer and also infertility


  • Paraben (the devil that mimics and messed with your hormones)
  • Talc and mineral oils


  • Formaldehyde
  • Dyes

After that overload, this is only just make-up but I also looked into the everyday personal care products I use and thanks to the video, I found ways to check what products are good for me and which are harmful. So I did a little experiment. Using the website Skin Deep, I emptied my bag to find out which of my everyday products are considered safe and which aren’t. From a score out of 10, 1-2 is safe, 3-6 is moderate but slightly harmful and 7-10 is considered to have harmful chemicals. Here are my results.


Products pictured left to right are:

MUA lip liner, Maybelline Nail Polish, Soft & Gentle Deodorant, Vaseline Lotion Spray,Vaseline Cocoa Lotion, Vaseline Aloe Vera Lip Therapy, Carmex Cherry Lip Balm, Blistex Repair Lip Cream, Nivea Fruity Shine , Rimmel Wonderfull Mascara and MAC blush.  

So generally, according to the three databases which look at their ingredients in depth most of my products are considered to be harmful. I was most surprised I think with the Vaseline which scored a 9 indicating that I should steer clear and also my lip balms that I actually thought worked great especially in the winter (sigh). This is not to discourage anyone to use certain products but I think it’s a piece of information for people to think deeper about everything we use and being more attentive to the detail. The websites I used to dig out some dirt on my everyday products were Skin Deep, Think Dirty and Good Guide. They also do products you use on children! Check it out and see what you find.

Whilst you read this, I might just take a stroll to Superdrug and continue my search for better lip balm. Have a great weekend & Happy Valentines!

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