Tales from the Cosmetologist
Halloween terror should be otherworldly. Be sure not to unleash real-life horrors in your household by buying make-up and masks that have the potential to do lasting damage to your children's health.
Like regular make-up and personal care products, the Halloween make-up found in conventional drug stores can contain a number of suspect ingredients. While research by The Green Guide turned up a number of options labeled "non-toxic," "safe," and "allergenic," it also revealed many Halloween make-up products containing ingredients that may add to the body's exposure burden and contribute to long-term health effects such as cancer or endocrine disruption. Some of the biggest culprits to watch out for include:
- TEA (triethanolamine): On its website, the FDA warns that TEA may contain DEA (diethanolamine). In 1998, the National Toxicology Program completed a study that found an association between the topical application of DEA, certain DEA-related ingredients, and cancer in laboratory animals. Based on animal studies, the FDA further reported in 1999 that DEA itself might be carcinogenic.
- Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben): Parabens are preservatives that are widely used in cosmetics. There is preliminary evidence that parabens act like estrogens and that they could disrupt normal hormone functions as a result.
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole): BHA is a preservative and antioxidant that is listed as a probable carcinogen in the US National Toxicology Program's 9th Report on Cancer. BHA is also a suspected hormone disruptor, and may act like estrogens in the body.
- Phthalates: Phthalates and their byproducts are widespread contaminants of women's bodies because of their presence in personal-care products such as nail polish and synthetic fragrances. Phthalates can disrupt boys' normal reproductive development and may be linked to premature puberty in girls. Male laboratory animals exposed to phthalates in the womb have high rates of abnormal reproductive and sexual development. They are also linked to cancer of the liver.
- Formaldehyde: A preservative commonly found in nail polishes, eye shadows, mascaras, and other cosmetics. Formaldehyde is listed as a probable carcinogen in the US National Toxicology Program's Ninth Report on Cancer.