Beautifying yourself to the grave

Women wear make up for different reasons. Some wear it to enhance their beauty, some to boost their confidence while others say it helps them appear more feminine. But have you ever thought about the harm cosmetics or make up can have on you?
Research says some lipsticks contain toxic metals. (Donah Mbabazi)
Research says some lipsticks contain toxic metals. (Donah Mbabazi)

Women wear make up for different reasons. Some wear it to enhance their beauty, some to boost their confidence while others say it helps them appear more feminine. But have you ever thought about the harm cosmetics or make up can have on you?

Lipstick, eyeliner

Alexia Mutoni, 21, says she cannot leave the house before applying lipstick and eyeliner.

“Whether I am going on a date, work or shopping, I wear mascara (a cosmetic commonly used to enhance the eyes) and lipstick because when I do, everyone says I am attractive,” Mutoni says.

And Mutoni is not the only woman who is so much in love with makeup. However, research calls for some caution in use of cosmetics.

Richard Bence, a biochemist, says women who use make-up on a daily basis are flooding their bodies with as much as 5lb of chemicals a year. A study has shown that some women use more than 20 different beauty products a day while nine out of 10 apply make-up which is expired.

Bence says women should use more organic rather than conventional cosmetics.

“When lipstick gets into one’s mouth, it is broken down by the enzymes in the saliva and in the stomach leading to the chemicals getting straight into your bloodstream,” Bence warns.  

“Environmental Health Perspectives”, an American journal, a few months ago revealed that toxic metals and cancer risks were found in lipsticks and lip glosses.

“This preliminary study of metal content in lip products suggests potential public health concerns,” wrote the authors of the study.

“Just finding these metals isn’t the issue; it’s the levels that matter,” S. Katharine Hammond, professor of environmental health sciences at UC Berkeley and lead investigator of the study,” said. “Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term.”

The researchers say lipsticks and lip glosses may pose specific risks for consumers, because they are swallowed and absorbed little by little by those wearing them.

Bleaching products

According to Dr Joseph Kabaya of Centre Medical Orkide, not all cosmetics are dangerous. However, those used for bleaching are definitely dangerous.

“Bleaching products contain certain chemicals such as steroids and quinolones which are extremely dangerous. Such chemicals destroy the skin completely and wash away the top layer (melanin) leaving the skin vulnerable to a number of things like the sun and various infections,” he explains.

Diana Uwera, a professional beautician at La decouverite, also echoes Kabaya’s view.

“Bleaching products sometimes cause allergies. The applier also loses the upper layer of the skin making the skin too soft. The danger of that is that it becomes very hard to perform an operation on them in case it is required at some point in their life,” Uwera says.

Deodorants

Some deodorants contain substances that cause cancer such as breast cancer, Dr Kabaya says. He explains that when these deodorants are applied under the armpits, the chemical substances mix up with the blood which in the end leads to cancer.

Powder

Applying powder isn’t dangerous as long as one uses a cleanser before going to bed, according to experts.

“If one applies powder daily without cleansing and does it for a long time, the skin develops allergies. The pores can also be blocked hence damaging the skin,” Uwera explains.

Eye liners

Uwera says some eye liners such as those which contain vitamin A are safe. However one needs to mind the way they apply them. Liner applied on the inside of the eye lashes has higher chances of moving into the eye which can lead to infections.

A study carried out by the British Skin Foundation found that the average woman applies 175 different chemicals to their skin on a daily basis. Many of these chemicals have been associated with skin problems, hormonal conditions and cancer.

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