Wednesday 24th January 2018,
Continental  Hospitals Blog

There has been a lot of research and discussion in the recent times about safety of cosmetic products. New evidence about the effects of potentially dangerous ingredients changes continually.  It would understandably difficult to estimate risks due to the variety of products, varied usage and exposure of  similar ingredients through other sources like food, water and the environment. However, the main point that concerns our consumers and healthcare giversis how to limit  unnecessary exposure of such harmful substances that affect our well-being.

The Indian cosmetic industry is pegged at 3000 Crore categorized in organized and unorganized sectors.  According to a survey carried out by AC/Nielson the lipstick market in India is estimated a whooping  116 Crore alone, in which Lakme accounts for a share of 40 percent, followed by Revlon which stands at 19 percent and Maybelline at 14 percent. The beauty industry in India is growing at a breakneck pace, almost twice as fast as that of the markets in the United States and Europe.

This article would like to highlight and increase awareness ofpossible hazards of commonly used cosmetics , lip makeup in particular, that even our youth are using increasingly.

As per a study, women who wear lipstick apply it two to 14 times a day. The result is that they inadvertently ingest and absorb through their lips as much as 87 milligram of product a day, the study says.

Beauty products contain various chemicals and dyes to impart that unique color,hue,texture, lustre or fragrance etc. Some of these ingredents may cause allergies in the susceptible. Hence some caution to be taken whilepurchasinga new product. Reactions may be relatively immediate like rashes or other skin eruptions or may occur gradually on prolonged  skin thickening  or pigmentation  for example. The are now organic and ‘hypoallergic’ and fragrance free products available for such people.

Sharing of cosmetic products,  common among the youngsters,also increase the risk of transmitting germs and infections. We all harbour multiple microbes in our skin  and mouth,which normally do not harm us. However by sharing personal products like lippers and roll-ons we can actually upset our natural balance of bugs.  Thus, there is risk of Viral herpes,  bacterial skin infection andmore . It is, therefore important to use and maintain these products hygienically.

Researchers found detectable levels of lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and a few other heavy metals in common brands of lipsticks. The concentration of these products cannot be guessed by any feature like colour/ lustre or texture as per their study.Traces of these substances can accumulate over time and It is therefore important to use and maintain these products h¥gienicallypotentially cause severe adverse effects in a long run when exposed in significant although minute quantities. Lead is known to cause neurotoxicity, cadmium  effects on kidneys and bone and some cancers,  aluminium  can cause bone diseases and kidney impairment for examples .

The FDA has in January 2017 issued a Guidance Recommendation of lead concentration of maximum 10 parts per million (ppm)  in cosmetics which is much higher than the 0.1 ppm considered safe in food.FDA is not formally responsible  for approval of cosmetic products and only provides recommendations.Fortunately, In India pre-approval needs to be sought by the CDSCO in contrast to USA and Europe where no authority  pre- approval is required.  As lipstick isinadvertently ingested, this author thinks safety limit in lipsticks may  need special  consideration especially in children  and adolescents who are more susceptible to toxic effects of such elements.

Products used beyond their expiry could have increased chances of causing harm due to denaturation and change in compounds often evidenced by a change in texture and a rancid smell or taste. Keeping cosmetics are best preserves when in  cool, dark and dry conditions.

Finally though we do not intend to put you in a panic, a few words of caution and especially towards our young enthusiastic users to limit use at an early age and to select products thoughtfully.


Note: ppm parts per million


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About The Author

Dr Sumeet Kaur is a Senior Consultant Physician at Continental Hospitals. With over 16 years of experience, Dr. Sumeet has worked as a Internal Medicine Physcian in countries like UK and Australia. She has a special interest towards Acute Medical Care, Preventive Medicine and Endocrinology. She has expertise in diabetic care, care of thyroid disorders and in ward procedures like Lumbar Punctures, Bone Marrow Aspiration, Joint Aspiration & Injections, Arterial lines, among other proceudres. Dr. Sumeet Kaur also is actively involved in teaching.

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