What’s in your beauty products?Ethical Health & Beauty News & Features
A new report from Giki Social Enterprise shows that while chemicals connected to health issues are common in beauty and children’s products, they are also avoidable.
Giki analysed more than 4,900 products across 230 brands to assess whether or not their products contained chemicals of concern.
The findings of What’s hiding in your beauty products? help to address consumer, scientist and NGO concerns regarding exposure to chemicals in everyday products.
Kids’ bathing products
Giki analysed 109 children’s bathing products and found almost half (44%) contain ‘chemicals of concern’.
Most of these products contain sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), a cleaning agent that can affect skin, eyes and lungs. Some also include chemicals which can cause allergic reactions, affect the immune system or be toxic to organs.
Brands that performed well against the chemicals of concern list include Attitude Little Ones, Child’s Farm and Good Bubble.
Women’s beauty products
The research found that 40% of all women’s makeup and haircare products contain a chemical of concern, with more chemicals found in haircare products and less in makeup.
Three in five (60%) of the 1,418 haircare products analysed contain chemicals of concern.
A range of chemicals were found in hair products; the most common are sodium laureth sulphate, cocamide MEA, DMDM hydantoin, parabens and triethanolamine. Potential risks range from irritation, allergic reactions, toxicity, hormone disruption, or links to cancer.
Urtekram, Roots & Wings and Organic Shop consistently performed well, with none of their products containing chemicals of concern.
What’s in makeup>?
Almost three-quarters (71%) of women’s makeup (blushers, lipsticks and glosses, eye makeup and foundation) is free from chemicals of concern.
The most common types of chemicals of concern found in the 3,377 makeup products analysed include BHT, parabens and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate. Risks associated are irritation, toxicity to organs, hormone disruption and links to cancer.
Burts Bee’s, La Roche-Posay, Miss Sporty, Bourjois, Rimmel London and George (Asda) performed best. Very few brands produce an entire range that’s free from chemicals of concern.
‘Often we have no idea whether the products we are using contain chemicals of concern. However, as consumers, we do have a choice. There are other options which are just as good and don’t contain chemicals we might want to avoid for us or our family. It’s just a matter of finding them – and Giki wants to make that easier for us all.’
Co-founder of Giki
Giki, a social enterprise, was founded in 2017 to encourage sustainable consumption by inspiring people to make small, regular changes in their supermarket shopping which are good for them, better for the environment and fairer to others.
It does this by rating over 250,000 supermarket products on sustainability, health and fairness. This information is delivered via a free app. In addition, Giki conducts research on key consumer issues to try and help people understand more about the products they buy and the companies they buy them from.
What are ‘chemicals of concern’?
Understanding the ingredients list on most cosmetics is difficult for the vast majority of people. Not only are the terms often highly scientific, there’s also a large number of terms to understand.
The amount of exposure, the length of exposure and other factors and uncertainty make it almost impossible to determine a direct link to issues from skin irritations and allergic reactions to cancer, hormone disruption and effects on the reproductive system.
Many consumers take the approach that they would rather not take the risk. As a result, Giki has compiled a list of commonly cited chemicals of concern using a number of sources.
These are the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (a US based not-for profit), Breast Cancer UK (#ditchthejunk) and the David Suzuki Foundation (a Canadian charity).
This list can never be fully comprehensive or complete, so shoppers should always check the label if there is a particular ingredient they are concerned about.
Giki’s algorithms read the product label; they look for the chemicals and, if none are found, a product is awarded a No Chemical of Concern badge.