What's in cosmetics?

Fragrances and preservatives are the main ingredients in cosmetics. Fragrances are the most common cause of skin problems. More than 5,000 different kinds are used in products. Products marked "fragrance-free" or "without perfume" means that no fragrances have been added to make the product smell good.

Preservatives in cosmetics are the second most common cause of skin problems. They prevent bacteria and fungus from growing in the product and protect products from damage caused by air or light. But preservatives can also cause the skin to become irritated and infected. Some examples of preservatives are:

  • Paraben
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • Dmdm Hydantoin
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Formaldehyde

The ingredients below cannot be used, or their use is limited, in cosmetics. They may cause cancer or other serious health problems:

  • Bithionol Mercury Compounds
  • Vinyl Chloride
  • Halogenated Salicyanilides
  • Zirconium Complexes in aerosol sprays
  • Chloroform
  • Methylene Chloride
  • Chlorofluorocarbon Propellants
  • Hexachlorophene

This answer is based on source informationfrom the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.