A recent report by the skin care and cosmetics industry trade body Skin Care UK said the UK had the highest number of products made with chemicals in the world, with more than 300,000 in use.
It added that the “world’s largest cosmetics company, Unilever, uses ingredients which are widely known to be carcinogenic, with the latest batch of cosmetics containing ingredients that have been linked to a number of cancer-causing diseases”.
The report also found that a third of products in Britain contained the chemical dimethicone, which can cause irritation and sensitisation to the skin.
The report found that the chemical was also linked to bladder and eye irritation and that it was one of the chemicals that made a number in cosmetics toxic.
In the UK, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) said that there were only two products that were made with dimethoxyacetone, the active ingredient in the popular Clarins and Dove skincare products.
Dove said that it had removed dimethoxyphenyl acetate from its line of products following the NTP report.
But in a statement, the company said it “does not believe this is a problem”.
“We are working closely with NTP to find a solution to ensure all our products are compliant with the law and do not cause irritation to the eyes, skin or the environment.”
The NTP’s report found a number ingredients were in the range of cosmetics that had been linked with cancers.
It said that one ingredient, methenol, is used in “a number of cosmetic products” to create a yellowish or white substance that can cause a skin irritation when rubbed on the skin, such as the product “Tinted and Tanned”, or the product of “Lift It Up”.
The NTC’s report said that another ingredient, phenoxyethanol, was also found in a number cosmetic products.
The NTSC said that the range included “a wide variety of skincares” and that some were “more likely to cause irritation”.
The cosmetics industry in the US was the most active, according to the report, with 22% of products tested containing at least one chemical.
It also said that of the products tested, 16% were made using “a mix of three or more of the following chemicals” which are “commonly found in cosmetics” and which could cause skin irritation.
A spokeswoman for Unilev said that, following the release of the NTSP report, the firm had taken steps to “reduce the risk of skin irritation caused by its products”.
“The company has removed dimethylacetone from its cosmetics range and is currently working with the NTC to identify potential safety issues and implement corrective measures, as well as ensuring our products comply with the EU and relevant laws,” she said.
“These measures are taking place on a voluntary basis, and we are continuing to monitor the situation closely.”
The cosmetics sector has been a major contributor to the global economy, accounting for about a quarter of GDP, according the US-based trade body Euromonitor International.
However, some of the most common chemicals found in cosmetic products in Europe are often found in the ingredients used in other types of cosmetics.
In March, the EU’s food safety watchdog, the European Commission, said it was concerned that some cosmetic ingredients were still in use and was asking Unilevers for a report on the chemicals used in some of its products.
But in June, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it had stopped using a certain chemical used in Dove’s “Tinny” products after receiving a complaint.
The FSA said it found no link between the chemicals found and a number cancer-related deaths.