Harmful Effects of Cosmetics

There are More Health and Environmental Risks of Using Cosmetics than there are Benefits


The original use of many substances in hair, skin, body, and beauty can be dated centuries back. Over the years, in order to enhance their effects and produce better quality products some chemicals are added. These additives include preservatives, stabilizers, minerals, bleaches, and shine. When we purchase these beauty and hair products, we expect them to be safe. However, research has found that this is not always the case. There are more health and environmental risks of using cosmetics than there are benefits. This is because the cosmetics industry is under-regulated not only in the United States but in many parts of the world. There is no solid system that has been in place to check whether personal care products are made safely. Studies suggest that even if a product contains harmful chemicals in it, it is possible that one might never hear about it. Between the years 2004 and 2016, only five thousand one hundred and forty-four complaints have been reported concerning cosmetics to the Food and Drug Administration. This study made by a dermatologist in Chicago should raise a lot of concern and this paper will explain why.

Harmful effects of cosmetics on our health.

We live in a world where we are judged by how great we look on social media, therefore, it is important for most to look their very best all the time. Wanting to look great, however, comes at a huge price. This mostly applies to women as they are the biggest client base for beauty products. For years the cosmetic industry has been convincing ladies the power of makeup where a small amount of foundation or a little mascara can enhance your look. While I don’t argue with this fact, using makeup on a daily basis can have many side effects on your skin and overall health (Malkan, 2007). These side effects include:

  1. Acne, skin discoloration, and allergies

Acne happens to be the most common of all the side effects that women experience. When one covers their skin with makeup all the time, they end up clogging the pores. Your skin, being the largest organ in the body needs to breathe and grow. Some types of cosmetics that we use on our skin clog up the pores and if not cleaned properly it could lead to acne, discoloration, and allergies.

  1. Eye infections

The eyes and skin around them should be given extra care since they are very sensitive. If makeup goes into the eyes through the corners it can cause a lot of discomfort and irritation. Research has also shown that using excess mascara and eyeliner inhibits that growth of lashes and could lead to infections as they are breeding grounds for bacteria.

  1. Hair loss

Hair products contain several harmful substances that destroy your hair follicles and strands if used for a long time. Hair products with harmful substances cause a number of problems such as thin hair, dandruff and sometimes redness of the scalp. People are, therefore, advised to use natural hair products to avoid such problems.

  1. Infertility and Hormonal imbalance

Skincare products such as creams and deodorant are directly absorbed into your skin so all the chemical substances in the product get into your body. The Research conducted found that a substance called butyl paraben significantly affects the production of testosterone in men. Prolonged use also affects the female reproductive system (Zeliger, 2011). It is important to note that this substance is used widely in the beauty industry and even natural products could contain it. Cosmetics that contain these harmful substances can affect the endocrine system resulting in the abnormal functioning of the thyroid gland. This means that regular use can cause hormonal imbalance.

  1. Cancer

Many of the beauty products available to us contain toxic ingredients that could result in cancer. Since there is no confirmation that the long-term use of the chemical- based products causes cancer, individuals are advised to avoid products containing lead, arsenic, ethylene oxide, benzene, and coal tar just to mention a few (Epstein, 2010).

Harmful effects of cosmetics on our environment

In addition to having negative effects on our health, cosmetics have a giant impact on the environment. Beauty products are laced with harmful products that cause pollution. Skincare products such as facial scrubs and toothpaste contain small plastic balls called micro-beads. These balls are made of polyethylene which does not decompose. They may seem too small to cause any harm but once you rinse them off ad they are washed down the drain, they end up in rivers or other water bodies such as Lake Erie (Bogut, 2016). Micro-plastics threaten marine life and the general health of the water bodies.

The beauty industry uses animals for the safety assessment of cosmetic ingredients. These substances are forced down their throats or put on to their bare skin. This is the ugly truth of the cosmetics industry which is very inhumane. Statistics show more than two hundred thousand animals are subjected to this brutality annually. The animals used are mostly rodents such as rabbits and hamsters. They are mostly subjected to skin and eye irritation tests for months. Pain relief is not provided for the small defenseless creatures and at the end of the tests, they killed. Some countries like China have laws that require beauty products to be animal-tested before they are imported into their country. This is very upsetting because there exist non-animal testing methods which are just as effective (Adler, 2011).


The public has become more enlightened on the health and environmental risks, therefore, the government has stepped in to help regulate the standards at which cosmetics are produced. Most, if not all beauty products, contain harmful ingredients. We use these products directly on our skins daily and that is why there is a need for safety measures to be taken immediately. It is also important that we do our research on products before we purchase them. There are some trustworthy companies that sell products with natural biodegradable ingredients such as Ives, and Burt’s Bees. However, there are big brands that still use plastic so that is why it is crucial to be cautious. When it comes to testing companies are advised to use ingredients that are tested and safe instead of having to go back to the lab to torture more animals. Most countries have banned this act but there is still more to be done to ensure it does not happen anymore.


Adler, S. (2011). Alternative (non-animal) methods for cosmetic testing: current status and future prospects-2010. Archiveof Toxicoloy, 367-485.

Bogut, M. (2016, March 12). Beauty Product & Their Impact on Health and Environment. Retrieved from Green Spirit: www.greenspirit.com/beauty-environment/

Epstein, S. (2010). Hhealthy Beauty: your guide to ingredients to avoid and products you can trust . Dallas: Accessible Publishing Systems .

Malkan, S. (2007). Not just a pretty face: the ugly side of the beauty industry. Philadelphia: Gazzelle Drake Academic.

Zeliger, H. (2011). Human Toxicology of Chemical Mixtures. Burlington: Elsevier Science.