Heavy metals can sometimes be found as contaminants in cosmetic products due to impurities in raw materials or the manufacturing process. Regulatory agencies in Europe and the FDA in America make some efforts (albeit very small) to set limits on the levels of heavy metals in cosmetics. However even the very dangerous heavy metals like Cadmium, Lead and Arsenic are often not specifically regulated or banned completely.
In Australia, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), which is now replaced by the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), does not have specific regulations or limits for many heavy metal concentrations in cosmetics. Sometimes they follow international guidelines and recommendations for cosmetic safety.
Instead, the notion is that impurities should be minimized according to “good manufacturing practices” (GMP). The ownness however, is on the members of the Australian cosmetics industry (see link below) themselves to follow good manufacturing practices to ensure the quality and safety of their products.
Off course not all cosmetics or personal care products will contain heavy metals. Consumers are however advised to be cautious and choose products from reputable manufacturers that adhere to strict safety and quality standards.
Here is a
At Toxtest, the option to test for the potential presence of additional contaminants in your product will include extra metals like Titanium and other Rare Earth Elements, PFAS chemicals, pesticides including glyphosate and petroleum chemicals. We are currently working to expand our analyses even further to other toxic substances.
As an example, some
And check out - Benzophenone & Related Compounds - "Benzophenone is used in personal care products such as lip balm and nail polish to protect the products from UV light. Derivatives of benzophenone, such as benzophenone-2 (BP2) and oxybenzone (benzophenone-3 or BP3) are common ingredients in sunscreen. Benzophenone is persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. These chemicals are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity." From Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Also see Grooming and Personal Care products on our
To minimize the risks associated with these contaminants, consumers can opt for sunscreens that use physical filters like non-nano zinc oxide, which are considered safer and more environmentally friendly. Additionally, choosing fragrance-free and paraben-free sunscreens can help reduce potential skin irritation or allergic reactions.
Personal care products such as skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, nail polishes, eye and facial makeup preparations, shampoos, toothpastes, and deodorants are used in our daily life for personal hygiene and beautification. To apparently enhance performance of these products, many chemical ingredients such as phthalates, parabens and triclosan are incorporated. Phthalates are used as humectants, emollients, or skin penetration enhancers while parabens and triclosan are used as antibacterial and/or antimicrobial preservatives.
From - Parabens in stretch mark creams: A source of exposure in pregnant and lactating women
Please note that the presence of a contaminant doesn't necessarily indicate that you will suffer adverse health effects. And as mentioned earlier, not all cosmetics or personal care products will contain heavy metals. However, many of the potential contaminates outlined previously have been toxicologically tested to establish known safety concerns and health risks for humans, animals and/or the environment.
Skin is our first line of defence, a barrier to protect us. Your individual human risk from exposure to potential contaminants in cosmetics is dependent on many variables. Skin absorption and the actual condition of the skin along with the metal form and its amount will influence greatly the risk of exposure and any long term harm. As an example, the absorption of mercury through the skin depends on its chemical form. Methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury, is poorly absorbed through the skin, while inorganic mercury and ethyl mercury can be absorbed more readily, especially if the skin is damaged or irritated.
And finally, here are some more details on how skin condition and the specific chemical form of a heavy metal can influence its absorption through the skin.
Skin condition can significantly impact the absorption of substances, including heavy metals. Various factors can affect skin condition, such as:
Integrity: Damaged or compromised skin (e.g., cuts, abrasions, burns, or skin diseases like eczema) can allow substances to penetrate more easily and potentially lead to higher absorption rates.
Hydration: Hydration of the skin can influence absorption. Dehydrated skin may be less permeable to substances, while increased hydration can improve penetration.
Thickness: Skin thickness varies across different body parts. Thinner skin, such as that found on the face, eyelids, or genital area, is generally more permeable than thicker skin, like the palms or soles.
Age: The skin of infants and young children is thinner and more permeable than adult skin, which could lead to higher absorption rates of substances. As people age, the skin loses some of its natural barrier function, potentially increasing the absorption of certain substances.
Individual variation: Skin properties can vary significantly among individuals due to factors like genetics, ethnicity, and lifestyle. These differences can result in varying absorption rates of substances.
The specific chemical form of a heavy metal can also impact its absorption through the skin. Different forms of a heavy metal can have different physicochemical properties, such as solubility, stability, and molecular size, which influence their ability to penetrate the skin. Some examples include:
Solubility: The solubility of a heavy metal compound in water or lipids can affect its absorption. Water-soluble compounds may struggle to penetrate the skin's lipid-rich outer layer (stratum corneum), while lipid-soluble compounds may more easily permeate the skin.
Ionic state: Heavy metals can exist in different ionic states or as part of different compounds. Some ionic forms of a heavy metal might be more easily absorbed than others due to differences in size, charge, or stability.
Complexation: Heavy metals can form complexes with other molecules, which might alter their ability to be absorbed through the skin. For example, a heavy metal complexed with a larger molecule may have reduced skin permeability compared to the uncomplexed metal.
Particle size: If a heavy metal is present as nanoparticles, it could potentially have increased skin penetration compared to larger particles or ionic forms.
Both skin condition and the specific chemical form of a heavy metal play important roles in determining its absorption through the skin. These factors, combined with the concentration of the heavy metal in the product and the duration and frequency of exposure, contribute to the overall risk associated with the heavy metal's presence in a cosmetic or personal care product.
From Global Heavy Metal Limits for Cosmetics - An Overview As we can see Germany in the EU has the highest standards and Australia at this time does not get a mention.
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