Natural beauty products may not all be safe - Consumer Reports

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Just because the word "natural" appears on the outside of a beauty product doesn't mean the contents on the inside are natural, according to a year-long investigation by Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart investigators advise looking past the front of the packaging.

"When we looked at the fine print on many personal-care items, we found several ingredients that concern us, such as coal tar, triclosan, and chemicals that release formaldehyde. Prolonged use of these ingredients may pose an increased risk of cancer or other health issues," said Lisa Lee Freeman with ShopSmart magazine.

For instance, the label on Naturtint hair color products say it's made "with ingredients of natural origin." But, it contains a petroleum-derived coal-tar color called p-phenylenediamine, plus hydrogen peroxide. That combination may be carcinogenic based on preliminary animal studies.

The label on Arm & Hammer deodorant says it has "natural" deodorizers, but it contains triclosan, an antibacterial. It may contribute to bacterial resistance, and animal studies show it's could potentially disrupt hormones that may affect reproductive and developmental health.

There are ingredients like quaternium 15 and DMDM hydantoin in body washes that claim to be "natural" and "nourishing." But when combined with water they can release formaldehyde, which is a human carcinogen if it's inhaled.

"Fortunately, some manufacturers and retailers are taking steps to reduce or eliminate potentially risky ingredients from their personal care products," said Freeman.

The best label to look for in beauty products is USDA organic. Another option, if you shop at Whole Foods, is to look for their "premium body care" seal. Those products are certified free of more than 400 risky ingredients.

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