Harmful Cosmetic Chemicals Found in Surprising Places

CosmEthics is constantly scanning the cosmetic market in Europe and has detected banned and harmful chemicals in surprising places. Even if you are buying you products in a pharmacy or finding them as a part of the cosmetic assortment in your luxury hotel room, there´s no guarantee of the products being free from banned chemicals.

The only way to exactly know which chemicals you are applying on your skin and hair, is to read the INCI label behind the product or to use the CosmEthics app to scan the product.

1) Pharmacies

CosmEthics has scanned the shelves of pharmacies in different countries finding banned chemicals in pharmacy products. The most recent finding is Bayer´s Essex Plus -cream, which contains the EU banned chemical called DEA-cetyl phosphate. This ingredient can cause severe eye damage and is not allowed to be used in cosmetic products sold on the EU market.

CosmEthics has notified Bayer of the composition of the Essex Plus -cream and the manufacturer has withdrawn the product from pharmacies. The consumers have been informed about the case on the manufacturers website but only only in Finnish. There is no information provided about the reason of the product withdrawal in other languages, though the product is sold in all Scandinavian countries.

In Helsinki, the information on the pharmacy shelves is not warning consumers of a harmful composition. The small tag on the shelve tells the product is “out of stock”, which gives the impression of a popular product.

CosmEthics recommends consumers having the Essex Plus cream at home to stop using the product because of the banned and harmful DEA-cetyl phosphate.

2) Hotel cosmetics

Even in a luxury hotel there might be cosmetic products which contain banned ingredients. An expensive hotel environment or a green packaging doesn´t necessarily match with the product inside. CosmEthics detected in France in May the banned ingredient called PHMB (Polyaminopropyl Biguanide) both in pharmacy products as well as in the body cream provided for costumers in the Relais & Chateaux hotel. PHMB is classified as a CMR-chemical (carcinogenic, mutagenic, and/or reproductive toxicant).

The INCI label of the hotel cosmetics is always worth reading as carefully as on the products sold in stores.

3) Airplane

CosmEthics has detected the banned PHMB also in wet wipes provided for travellers on the airplane. For example the Finnish airline Finnair gives out Chinese wet wipes containing PHMB. What makes the case challenging for consumers is that on the wet wipes package PHMB has been replaced with the chemical name of the ingredient instead of the INCI name. The chemical name is not allowed to be used in cosmetic products.

The INCI name of PHMB is Polyaminopropyl Biguanide. The chemical name of this ingredient is called polyhexamethylene biguanide hydrochloride. For some reason this has been used on the Finnair wet wipes INCI label. In addition there is also a misspelling, which makes it impossible to recognize the chemical as PHMB. Polyhexamethylene biguanide hydrochloride has been spelled on the wet wipes package incorrectly as polyhexamethylene guaidine hydrochloride.

CosmEthics has contacted the airline regarding the matter.