Cosmetics a health hazard? Many contain potentially toxic ingredients

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Are your cosmetics a health hazard? From shampoo to makeup, cosmetics are part of our daily lives. Even so, many don't know what they are made of!

"There's lead acetate in hair dyes, lead in lipstick, formaldehyde and dioxane in baby shampoos and other shampoos," Lisa Archer with Friends of the Earth said.

All of these ingredients are potentially toxic, so why are they allowed in these products?

The problem, in part, lies with the law.

Cosmetic firms are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products -- but with the exception of color additives, federal food and drug regulations do not require ingredients in beauty aids to be approved before going on the market.

Work by grassroots organizations to change that is starting to pay off.

Faced with mounting pressure, Johnson & Johnson announced its plan to phase out the ingredients.

In a statement to CNN, the company said nothing is more important to them than the piece of mind of people using their products, but the company also said the ingredients, at their present levels, are safe.

Archer, former director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics disagrees.

"It's really important for consumers to know that small doses can add up to harm, and the timing of the dose of the toxic chemicals really matters as well," Archer said.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a number of resources on its website to inform consumers of what it calls "chemicals of concern."

For Nakia Evans, who has suffered breakouts and skin irritations for years, it was an epiphany.

"I just couldn't wear the type of makeup that everybody else was wearing," Evans said.

Evans began to take a closer look at what, exactly she was putting on her skin, and switched to products that do not contain ingredients considered potentially toxic.

"We want to look great on the outside, but we also have to educate ourself when we're applying makeup what we're doing not only to our skin, but internally," Evans said.