Many of us try our best to buy the beauty products we find the healthiest and safest for our body. We would opt for products with labels that claim to be “natural” or “chemical-free”. But are these labels actually always what they claim? Do we know if these companies are telling the truth? Are our beauty products actually safe to use? Unfortunately, these claims are not always true. For instance, according to the FDA, hair-straightening products from the company, Brazilian Blowout, contain high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde even though the company claimed that the products were free of it. Yes- that is outrageous.

Although claims made by beauty product companies may not always be true, researchers say that many of the ingredients are actually safe to use, but the lack of data to back those claims is concerning. Russ Hauser, the chair of the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, spent almost 20 years studying different chemicals that include parabens and phthalates. These ingredients belong to a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors, which can get in the way of the hormonal system and even contribute to issues like infertility, obesity, and huge changes in metabolism. Due to products marketed specifically for certain racial groups, many people of color may be more exposed to these harmful ingredients. For instance, some darker skinned women may regularly use skin lightening creams that contain high levels of mercury. Age is also a concern for all women. The longer that older women have used toxic cosmetic products, the more harmful the effects can be.

The good news is that lawmakers are trying their best to enforce stricter government regulations on these beauty products, but in the meantime it can be hard to understand how to protect yourself from toxic ingredients. Always check your beauty product’s ingredients and avoid using too many products. Buy from well-known sources and be careful when companies claim they use all “natural” ingredients. Always do your research before buying a beauty product because no matter what, your body, skin, and hair deserve the best!