You may be well-versed in all the myriad ways in which cosmetics enhance your appearance. But are you aware of how cosmetics can contain ingredients that negatively impact your health? For breast cancer awareness month, we're highlighting some of the ingredients contained within cosmetics that can have adverse effects on our bodies. We'll also recommend some products free of those troubling ingredients— so that you can enjoy using beauty products without worry.
Ingredients to Avoid
When it comes to breast cancer, many scientific studies have investigated the link between certain cosmetic ingredients in relation to breast cancer risk. Generally, any ingredients which have the potential to disrupt the hormones in our bodies, including testosterone and oestrogen, can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Ingredients that are classified as carcinogens, a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue, must also be avoided.
Aluminium is used in antiperspirant products to block sweating. By preventing sweat from leaving the body, it reduces the bacteria growth of sweaty armpits, reducing body odour. However, this metal has been shown to affect oestrogen and some suggest that it could increase the risk of breast cancer. Yet the studies don't all yield a conclusive answer. Additional studies in this area are pending.
Cadmium is a metal that is most often used in batteries, coatings and plating, semi-conductors, and as a stabilizer for plastics. However, it can be a contaminant in some colour cosmetics and face paints marketed to kids. Cadmium has been shown to demonstrate oestrogen-like activity, which is known to increase breast cancer risk. Other metals such as nickel, chromium, zinc, lead and mercury have been shown to have similar estrogen-like effects.
Polyacrylamide (acrylamide). Polyacrylamide is a stabilizer and binder used in lotions and other products. Though it is not a concern in itself, it is made up of repeating molecules of acrylamide, which is a strongly suspected carcinogen linked to mammary tumours.
Styrene. Residual styrene may be a contaminant in cosmetics with styrene-based ingredients or fragrances that contain styrene. Styrene is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen and a hormone disruptor. Styrene may also be toxic to red blood cells, the liver, and the central nervous system.
Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and can disrupt estrogen, progesterone and androgen systems. They are commonly found in plastics, building materials, cleaning products, insecticides, pharmaceuticals, food packaging, home décor, children’s toys, and personal care products. For pregnant women, phthalates are associated with decreased fertility, pregnancy loss, and adverse obstetrical outcomes. They also affect the way the body produces and uses the hormone testosterone, which is present in varying amounts in all bodies.
Parabens are used as preservatives in many cosmetic products, including makeup, moisturisers, hair care products, and shaving creams or gels. However, they disrupt the way your body produces and regulates oestrogen and other hormones. Parabens can penetrate the skin and act like a very weak oestrogen in the body— potentially turning on the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers.
1,4-dioxane is formed in the manufacture of ingredients used as foaming agents in shampoos, body wash, and children’s bath products. It is defined as a carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Sunscreens (UV filters). Several UV filters used in cosmetics may have hormone-disrupting properties, including benzophenone, homosalate, and octinoxate. Prominently found in sunscreen, these chemicals are also used in a variety of personal care products such as shampoos, lipstick, nail polish and skin creams.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is found in some anti-ageing products. PTFE may be contaminated with PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), a possible carcinogen. Exposure to these compounds is associated with delayed menstruation, later breast development and increased incidence of breast cancer.
Triclosan is used in many products to prevent bacterial growth and mould and to kill bacteria on the surface of the skin. It's found in anti-acne products, some deodorants and antiperspirants, and sanitising hand soaps. Some evidence shows that it disrupts the microbiome within the gut. Further, the chemical is classified as a pesticide and can affect the body’s hormone systems—especially thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism—and may disrupt normal breast development.
Find Consciously Sourced Beauty
Use products that are free of toxic ingredients to enjoy peace of mind. On Yuty, you can search for haircare, skincare, bath & body care, makeup and fragrances that are created consciously and sustainably.
Use our search to filter out: artificial fragrances, artificial preservatives, phthalates, gluten, mineral oils, silicones, alcohol, sulfates, SLS, parabens, steroids, palm oil, retinoids, DEAs and much more.
£34.00 | 236 ml / 8 oz
No artificial fragrances, colours, parabens, sulfates or fillers here! Soothe sore muscles and revitalise your body with magnesium and mineral-rich pink salt. Unwind and invite ease with herbal passionflower and the alluring aroma of patchouli, vanilla, and myrrh.
£24.00 | 450 g / 16 oz
For a full-body soak that's vegan and free of chemicals, parabens, phthalates. This coconut milk helps create a supple texture for the skin, to calm it down and provide a boost of hydration.
£8.00 | 118 g / 4 oz
When caring for your armpits, which are located close to the breast area, go for paraben-free. This body serum puts a stop to the cycle of ingrown hairs and razor bumps with 100% vegan ingredients.
£20.00 | 100 g / 3.38 Fl oz
A deodorant that's got none of the bad stuff. This deodorant is beautifully made with Ylang Ylang, Palmarosa, Grapefruit and Geranium essential oils. It contains no parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrance and is made of only organic, plant-based ingredients.
£11.00 | 236 ml / 8 oz
Get simple, easy, glorious body moisturisation through this mist lotion spray containing only vegan, plant-based and natural ingredients.
£13.00 | 250 g / 8.8 Fl oz
This shampoo, when washed off your hair to come into contact with your body, will also bring benefits to your skin. Created with 3 simple ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil and peppermint. The selected oils combat dandruff and dry scalp while locking in moisture and soothing itchy areas.
Maman | Shea Butter Belly & Nipple Cream
£18.00 | 180 ml / 6 Fl oz
Made with only botanical oils. This amazing mix of shea butter and moisturising oils naturally tones and conditions the belly and nipples during pregnancy. A blend of oils such as olive, calendula, and sweet almond oils minimises itching, heals sore, cracked nipples, restores elasticity and deeply moisturises and hydrates dry skin.
Where you and beauty meet. Yuty takes into consideration your genetics, lifestyle, environment and preferences when providing you with personalised recommendations. Take the YUTY Advisor™ today to find your perfect match.
Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer. (2016, August 9). National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/myths/antiperspirants-fact-sheet
Exposure to Chemicals in Cosmetics. (n.d.). Breastcancer.org. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/cosmetics
Personal Care Products: Science Summary. (n.d.). Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://www.bcpp.org/our-work/personal-care-products/science-summary/
Sanidad, K. Z., Xiao, H., & Zhang, G. (2019). Triclosan, a common antimicrobial ingredient, on gut microbiota and gut health. Gut microbes, 10(3), 434–437. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2018.1546521