Toxic Substances in cosmetics : how to avoid the trap – South West

Evidence that the subject has become a «real concern», UFC – que choisir has received «a lot of questions and comments following the update, at the end of February, to its list of 419 beauty products containing allergens and/or endocrine disruptors.

And for good reason : these toxic substances have been identified in current products and even in brands you never knew existed. It is to lose the head… and health.

What health effects ?

Two types of toxic substances are highlighted :

– Endocrine disruptors :

The endocrine disruptors are, alas, everywhere : water, food, plastic packaging, cleaning products, cosmetics etc which May modify the hormonal system, these harmful substances can have a wide range of impacts on health , according to the Inserm (national Institute of health and medical research) : alteration of reproductive functions, malformation of reproductive organs, development of tumors at the tissue level producers or targets for hormones (thyroid, breast, testes, prostate, uterus, etc.), disruption of the functioning of the thyroid, the development of the nervous system…

Their contact is particularly not recommended for pregnant women and children.

– Allergens :

The allergens that you find as well in the cosmetics and fragrance in household products, are «a ticking time bomb,» says 60 million consumers. «They are the first contact but may take months or even years to cause dermatitis (skin conditions), eczemas, rhinitis or asthma».

And this is not so trivial… today, 25% to 30% of the population is affected by an allergic disease, a figure which is steadily increasing, note the Inserm (national Institute of health and medical research). Eczema accounts for 15% to 20% of allergies, asthma 7% and 10%, and rhinitis-allergic conjunctivitis 15-20%.

Then how to avoid it ?

Attention to received ideas

Purchase an expensive product in a pharmacy for a brand claiming to be natural is not a guarantee of a healthy product, and sometimes, the cosmetics first price turn out to be less toxic. What are the pitfalls to avoid ?


Put the price for a beauty product or health and does not need to be free of toxic substances. The example cited by 60 million consumers in October 2015 is instructive. The review had not identified any allergen, and endocrine disruptor in a toothpaste Leader Price when it signaled the presence of Triclosan (endocrine disruptor that acts on the estrogen hormones, and thyroid function) in the toothpaste Colgate Total Original. A year and a half later, this toothpaste Colgate has not changed, according to the survey of UFC que choisir…

The prestigious brand Nuxe is also included in the list of products pinned with a lip balm containing endocrine disrupters and allergens.


This is not (no longer) because you buy your cosmetics at the drugstore that you are spared. The UFC -que choisir pin and the «Cold Cream» of Avène, which contains two substances : the Cyclopentasiloxane (endocrine disruptor) and Phenoxyethanol (which may be toxic to the liver). No less than 9 products Klorane are also pointed out. And these are not the only… products intimate of Roger Cavaillès also contain potential endocrine disruptors.


– «Without parabens» does not mean no danger. To attract the customer, products are displayed loud and clear as «no parabens». «When a brand says ‘no parabens’, although ‘there is not, but she sometimes forgets to specify that this disruptive has been replaced by another conservative not very clear either,» said Olivier Andrault of UFC – que choisir.

Hypoallergenic or allergen-free. The argument of sale can seduce but is not a guarantee of truth. Again, there may be a «falsely reassuring», says Olivier Andrault, with brands that benefit from a «rules not very clear» to display as «hypoallergenic».

– They surf on the mode of the «natural» and essential oils. Stars of the gondolas in pharmacy, sprays, so-called «cleansing» supposed to «clean» the indoor air, based on essential oils, are in fact the source of a «pollution major» indoor air, alert to the 60 Million consumers in its latest issue. The association, which has done the test with a physician, cited the example of the leader Puressentiel, which contains, in particular, allergens.

How to avoid the risk products


It may seem tedious, but read the data sheets of the products remains the best solution to stay away from these toxic substances. UFC – que choisir offers to download a map with all the names (barbarians) of the molecules to avoid.

Sud Ouest

>> Download the map


– Cosmetics : sunscreens, tampons, moisturizers, and lipsticks and nail Polish are loaded with potentially toxic substances. «For beauty products and hygiene especially, more than ever, it is necessary to make it simple,» advises Olivier Kah, a physiologist and director of research emeritus at the CNRS. «Prefer the natural, such as soap from Marseille». It is also recommend to promote the cosmetics labeled organic, where regulation is more framed.

– Cleaning products : «cleaning, use white vinegar, black soap, baking soda», recommends that the researcher Olivier Kah.

– Kitchen : «80% of the exposure to endocrine disruptors is through food,» explains Sandrine Bold, spokesperson of the association Generations of guinea pigs, to France Info. It recommends a focus on home cooking, organic foods and avoid prepared meals. Another tip is to «Throw out the old pans, use utensils made of glass and plastic and avoid the stretch film,» says researcher Olivier Kah. As much as possible to favour the parchment paper.


Toxic residues in diapers and baby products (60 Million consumers)

Cosmetics : the list of 491 products containing toxic substances (UFC – que choisir)

Cosmetics : the 10 products to change emergency (UFC – que choisir)

93 cosmetics (with different marks) passed the test bench, (60 Million consumers)

Alert on the pads and protections female (60 Million consumers)

77 household products screened (60 Million consumers)

Toxic products to maintain her home in the natural, it is possible ! (South West)

Breast cancer : why the deodorants are in the view finder (South West)

Pesticides to the pollution of the air : 8 tips to detoxify (South West)

– Participate in the survey of UFC – que choisir : «raise a cosmetic that contain ingredients undesirable

Pending a decision of the Europe…

Since 2009, the folder behind in Brussels. There are a few weeks still, Europe has failed to find a definition of endocrine disrupters, which would allow to better regulate the presence of these toxic substances in everyday products.

Why ? «Generally speaking, the legislative process is already slow. But it is still slower when there is lobbying (industrial, editor’s note) who are doing everything to prevent european countries to act quickly,» said Olivier Andrault, of the association UFC-que choisir.

Last November, nearly 100 scientists of renowned international had published an op-ed in The World going in the same direction. Titled «stop the manipulation of the science», this text denounced «the manufacture of doubt by the industry, is already at work in the fight against climate change».

Pending the decision of Europe, the manufacturers can continue to market their products. The brand Ducray, pointed the finger for four of its products by UFC-que choisir, defends itself, and on its website comply with the regulations. Contacted by South West, the brands mentioned in the article have not (yet ?) replied.


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