04.09.2006 Health

Warning over 175 chemicals in toiletries

Warning over 175 chemicals in toiletries
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As they go through their morning beauty routine, most women think the worst they are doing is enhancing what nature gave them.

But simply by applying make-up, women could be doing themselves serious health problems.

Every day the average woman applies 175 different chemicals to her body in the form of cosmetics and toiletries, it is claimed.

Most beauty products contain a mind-boggling cocktail of different chemicals - many of which have been linked to various health problems.

The list of potentially harmful ingredients in everyday cosmetics includes chemicals linked to cancers, hormone problems and skin-irritations.

Now a campaign group is calling for cosmetic manufacturers to display more information on what their products contain and to come clean about their side-effects.

The group - set up by the manufacturers of natural products - is especially concerned about three commonly-occuring ingredients which it says can be extremely harmful.

Preserving agents called parabens - often used in moisturisers and body creams - have been linked to breast cancer and also to skin inflammations.

Foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate - used in shampoos - are said to be skin irritants

And the disinfectant formaldehyde - in shampoos and handwash - can make skin flare up and is linked to asthma and headaches.

Julia Mitchell, spokeswoman for, said the average woman will use 12 different cosmetic products a day - unwittingly applying 175 different chemicals to their body.

She said: "Media reports about the possible dangers of certain chemicals such as parabens, sodium laureth sulphate, phthalates and formaldehyde has made consumers more aware of what they are buying, and potentially more demanding of chemical safe alternatives.

"European law, thanks to lobbying by European dermatologists, now requires labelling of contents on skincare products and toiletries.

"But chemically-concerned consumers and manufacturers are campaigning for more information to be made widely available about the potential effects of these ingredients, particularly for sufferers of sensitive skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis."

Professor David Gawkrodger, a consultant dermatologist and spokesman for the British Skin Foundation charity, said eight million people in the UK suffer from a skin condition - and that number is on the rise.

He said: "Some of the chemicals in everyday toiletries may trigger irritant reactions or allergy. Reactions are particularly seen in patients with atopic eczema and those with sensitive skin.

"Most reactions will be to the face or hands, and sometimes on the arms and legs."

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