Is make-up bad for you? If your answer is "Of course not," followed by, "Wait, is it?" we don't blame you. Figuring out the long-term effects of the various chemicals that most women wear on their face at least some of the time is a whole lot more complicated now than it was thousands of years ago.
Chemicals aren't necessarily bad for us, but is this billion-dollar industry trying to pull the wool over our perfectly lined eyes?
Back when the ancient Egyptians applied lead sulphide-based make-up to their face, the risks were obvious (to us, at least). As it was made all too clear when lead was discovered in the Michigan drinking water late last year, lead is a potent neurotoxin that can lead to learning and behavioural difficulties in children, and can decrease fertility in both men and women. Sorry, Cleopatra.
As the AsapSCIENCE video above explains, as recently as the early 1800s, women were encouraged to use moisturisers containing compounds of the radioactive element radium, with manufacturers convincing them it would give them a 'radient glow'. Yikes.
Obviously, we don't use known toxins in our make-up anymore, but just how safe is it?
It's not on the Cleopatra scale, but there still are traces of lead in our makeup. The difference is it's not deliberate. Lead is found in small amounts in nature, so trace amounts of it end up contaminating our make-up products, and there's not a whole lot we can do about it.
Studies have shown these trace amounts can range from 0.026 parts per million (ppm) to 7.19 ppm, both of which are under the recommended health limits.
Interestingly, lipsticks are made up of around 47 percent oils, the most common of which is castor oil.
As the boys from AsapSCIENCE point out, the bean used to extract castor oil also produces ricin - one of the most potent natural toxins on Earth. Fortunately, to get the castor oil, you need to head up the bean, and that destroys the ricin. Phew.
Oh, but did you know some blue pigments are made from a chemical called ferric ferrocynanide? You know, cynanide, that chemical warfare agent?
I'll let AsapSCIENCE explain why this actually shouldn't bother you at all, and you should be more concerned about the nasty things coming off your own body and contaminating your harmless make-up products. And when you're done, watch below for chemicals you should be concerned about:
By Bec Crew
With thanks to Live Science
A History of Cosmetics
William Perkin: Inventor Of The Colour Mauve And Other Synthetic Dyes
Cleopatra: Was She Killed By A Snake?