Cosmetic Companies Are Being ‘Too Cosmetic’ With Their Description Of Product Ingredients

  • Majority of household cosmetics and cleansers use flattering descriptions that mask potentially harmful chemicals
  • Manufacturer Aquaint calls for ‘transparency, not cosmetic language’ as concerns about absorption of harmful and toxic chemicals through the skin rise

The cosmetics industry lacks appropriate regulatory scrutiny and is using vague language that hides the presence of potentially harmful and toxic ingredients in many household cosmetics, personal care products and cleansers. This is the view of Aquaint, creators of a new water-based anti-bacterial spray that does not feature harmful chemicals.

Aquaint checked 40 commonly available UK products and cross-referenced them against an industry database. In every case cosmetic language was used to describe potentially hazardous chemical content.

Aquaint’s founder, Bola Lafe, said that he was driven to carry out the checks having gone through the process of developing the wording for his packaging. The exercise, he says, was an eye-opener that exposed a lack of regulatory rigour, creating potential risks for consumers.

Bola Lafe said: “When we started to describe the ingredients in our product we were amazed at how unregulated the language used in the cosmetics industry is. Potentially harmful chemicals are described as fragrances, parfums or preservatives, which is misleading. Unbelievably, a cosmetic product that contains as little as 1% organic ingredients and also contains potentially hazardous substances can still be labelled as organic. There wouldn’t be this level of leniency in the food industry, for example.”

“There are some 3,000-plus chemicals that are used as ‘fragrances’, which ironically are used to cover up bad smells of other chemicals in the products. We’re calling for greater transparency to help consumers make informed choices and to be fair to manufacturers that avoid potentially harmful ingredients.”

Products marketed as ‘child-friendly’ or ‘safe for kids’ often contain a multitude of harsh chemicals. A leading brand that is marketed as ‘Alcohol Free’ and ‘kind to kids’ contains twenty chemicals including Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is linked to skin irritation, eye deformities in children and cancer.

comsetics table

Source: Industry data Apr-2014

Bola Lafe added: “It’s common knowledge that hand soaps and household cleaning products are not safe to put in your mouth. The issue is that these same products are used all over the body and harsh chemicals are absorbed through your skin. The industry often uses generic terms such as ‘fragrances’ and ‘preservatives’ that can hide those chemicals with known health concerns.”

Aquaint is 100% natural with only two ingredients – water and a naturally occurring substance called Hypochlorous Acid. The acid, which has powerful antibacterial properties, is the substance produced by human blood cells to kill harmful germs. Once the bottle is sprayed, the acid is used up within seconds leaving only harmless water behind. Compared to existing products, this natural sanitiser destroys the same level of harmful bacteria and germs (99.9%), without leaving any chemical residue. Despite its remarkable effectiveness in killing germs, Aquaint is so benign that it has passed stringent UK drinking water tests and can be used as a mouthwash.

Aquaint is supporting the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – a coalition of several groups including Friends of the Earth and the Breast Cancer Fund. The Campaign aims to protect the health of consumers and workers by pressuring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems.

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