The ugly truth about cosmetics

Do you know what's in the products you use?
Do you know what's in the products you use?

Are the beauty products you use hazardous to your health? The answer is, most likely, “yes”.

When it comes to personal care products in the United States, the FDA does little to protect consumers from harmful chemicals. But we can protect ourselves by researching the products that we purchase and use.

Here are some alarming facts from the Environmental Working Group’s study of toxicity in personal care products:

More than one-third of all personal care products have at least one ingredient connected to cancer;

57 percent of all products include “penetration enhancer” chemicals that can push other ingredients faster and deeper into the skin and into the blood flow; and

79 percent of all products contain ingredients that may have harmful impurities like known human carcinogens, according to FDA or industry reviews. Impurities are legal and unrestricted for the personal care product industry.

Skin Deep is an online database where you easily get an idea of how hazardous the products you use may be by performing a simple search. This database can also be used to find products with lower toxicity.

I looked up each of the personal care products that I use regularly, and was surprised to learn that my shampoo received a 9 (out of ten) rating on the hazard scale! I also learned the following about the substance I’ve been regularly massaging into my scalp:

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Luckily, Skin Deep, as well as other websites like Best in Beauty, can help us find safer personal care products to switch to.

I’m glad that resources like these exist, but the fact that cosmetics consumers have so little protection is ridiculous. Why has the government cracked down on lead in paint, but not in lead in lipstick? Why do companies have to prove that chemicals are safe before being sold in Europe, while in the U.S., the responsibility falls on the consumers to prove that chemicals are unsafe before they have a chance of being pulled from the shelves?

Your beauty products go more than skin deep.
Your beauty products go more than skin deep.

If you want to make cosmetics safer for consumers, or simply learn more information on this issue, check out The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. A summary of important info can be found in Unmasked: The 10 Ugly Truths Behind the Myth of Cosmetic Safety [PDF]. Here are some shocking facts from Unmasked:

United States: 10
European Union: 1,100+

Ingredients in personal care products in the U.S.: 10,500

Portion of chemical ingredients in cosmetics that have been assessed for health and safety by the industry’s self-policing safety panel: 11%

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also produced a short video, which introduces some of their concerns.

What do you think about cosmetics safety? Will you change the way you choose and use personal care products in the future? Join the conversation by posting a comment. Feel free to share links to other helpful resources, and if you find these resources helpful, please share them with everyone you know!


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