Color Face



They may be reluctant to leave home without it, but make-up is putting women at risk of deadly diseases, say experts.

According to a new book, cosmetics and beauty products often contain toxic ingredients that can cause cancer and other fatal illnesses.

Loopholes in Government regulations are being exploited by manufacturers to allow banned chemicals into over-the-counter products, it claims.

Authors Kim Erickson and Samuel Epstein say many ingredients in make-up have been shown to cause cancer in animals and should never be used as part of a beauty routine.

Coal tar colours, phenylenediamine, benzene and even formaldehyde are some of the toxins commonly found in shampoos, skin creams and blushers, they say.

Hormone-disrupting chemicals, which could lower immunity to disease and cause neurological and reproductive damage, may also lurk in everyday cosmetics.

In their book, Drop Dead Gorgeous:  

Miss Erickson said: 'Modern cosmetics contain a host of dubious ingredients which would be more at home in a test tube than on our faces.

'These synthetic ingredients are inexpensive, stable and have a long shelf-life. Manufacturers love them, but the results from long-term use could be deadly.'

She said the same poisons that pollute the environment, from dioxins to petrochemicals, can be found in the average bathroom cabinet.

'Many of the same ingredients have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals,' she added.

The UK cosmetics industry is worth £4.5billion a year and employs more than 20,000 people. It is controlled by the Department of Trade and Industry's 1996 Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations. The regulations approve about 3,000 ingredients for cosmetic use, but many more find their way into the finished products.

One loophole in the regulations allows cosmetics to contain banned substances if they cannot 'reasonably' be removed.

The authors say chemicals get into the bloodstream in a number of ways. Hair sprays, perfumes and powders are inhaled; lipstick is swallowed; eye make-up absorbed by sensitive mucous membranes and others taken in through the skin.

Allergy specialist Dr Jean Munro, medical director of the Breakspear Hospital in Hertfordshire, supports the claims.

In the last 20 years she has treated 8,000 women, nearly all of whom were found to have a sensitivity to beauty products.

Dr Munro said: 'There is no question that people are being damaged by their cosmetics.

'So many things are put into cosmetics now that are carcinogenic, and it is allowed because cosmetics are not considered to be as serious as drugs or food.

'One of the most extreme cases I have seen was a woman whose bone marrow was affected by chemicals used in hair dye.

'The situation as it is is plainly dangerous - unacceptably so.'