Toxic Skin Products: Buyer Beware!
Toxic Skin Products: Buyer Beware!
I am always on the look-out for good examples of medical censorship. Recently I came across a 2010 Friends of the Earth report on preliminary studies into the health effects of the nanosized particles present in many popular sunscreens and so called “natural” mineral foundations.
A condensed version at http://www.aolnews.com/nanotech/article/more-bad-news-about-sunscreen-safety-nanoparticles/195001 makes for very worrying reading.
Worse still is the group’s recent discovery that the FDA has known for nearly a decade that many common sunscreens contain ingredients that may actually accelerate the growth of skin cancer cells.
Nanoparticle containing skin products are strictly regulated in France, Germany the UK and the European Union as a whole – with laws requiring safety testing and mandatory product labeling as a minimum – with an outright ban in some places.
Preliminary evidence suggests that nanoparticles can penetrate healthy skin to some extent. Since there is no scientific data whatsoever regarding “safe” levels of exposure, any absorption is worrying. Nanoparticles are clearly absorbed (into the blood stream) through skin damaged through eczema or psoriasis, a major health concern as mineral foundations are specifically marketed to women to conceal unsightly dermatitis. And the mineral foundation powders are often accidentally inhaled (into the lungs) during application.
The potentially hazardous nanoparticles in sunscreen are nanosized zinc oxide and nanosized titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide nanoparticles have been shown (in very small concentrations) to kill brain stem cells in mice, to damage colon cells, to play some role in the development of autism, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s and to cross the placenta and potentially harm the developing fetus. Nano-titanium has been show to cause cell and DNA damage (both directly and indirectly by increasing circulating free radicals).
Not only are these substances totally unregulated in the US, but due to lax labelling laws, 80 percent of sunscreens that claim to contain no nanoparticles are found to contain them.
Most “natural” mineral foundation powders aren’t really natural at all – as the minerals they contain undergo an industrial process in which they are “micronized” – a fancy term to describe to describe the crushing process they undergo. The most common minerals in minderal foundations are titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, bismuth oxychloride, mica and iron oxides. Unfortunately the majority of manufacturers (deliberately it seems) fail to specificy the size of their “micronized” minerals. Anything smaller than 10 microns qualifies as a nanoparticle – and clearly most products contain mineral fragments small than 10 microns.
Thin Lizzy, produced by a New Zealand manufacturer, is the number one make-up product in New Zealand, especially among teenagers (owing to its sexy commercial jingle, low cost and saturation TV advertising). According to their website, they are rapidly expanding into the US market, as well.
Owing to misleading and disceptive advertising, my strong recommendation to all sunscreen users is to consult the following website to make sure any product they put on their skin is safe:
Likewise women seeking truly “natural” mineral foundations should consult one of the following websites for safe brands:
Meanwhile all conscientious consumers need to support the 2010 Safe Cosmetics Act presently in Congress – which would greatly strengthen FDA oversight for a virtually unregulated industry.