Today, more and more people realize the importance of a healthy diet and especially wholesome and healthy nutrition. They pay attention to the quality of their food, buy organically grown produce, read labels and hold the food industry to higher standards by refusing to buy products with harmful ingredients; the cosmetic industry is still flying under the radar of government agencies and the public eye.
Beauty, however, is more than skin deep and reading labels can open your eyes to the dangers lurking in today’s beauty products. From lead in lipsticks to the phthalates and parabens in your baby’s lotion, the list of toxic and health-damaging ingredients is long and expands daily
Did you know that the average woman uses a dozen personal care products, containing 168 chemicals, 89% of which have never been tested for the safety of their ingredients. (Uricchio, 2010)
While the The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with the oversight of cosmetics, it has no authority to require pre-market safety assessments. It can neither review and regulate what goes into cosmetics, nor can it recall products that are found to be harmful.
The top five harmful chemicals most commonly found in popular beauty products are lead, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and nitrosamines.
Lead is a toxic heavy metal and can be found in whitening toothpastes and lipsticks. The negative effects of lead exposure are well documented and reach from neuro-toxicity, seizures, gastrointestinal issues to reproductive and kidney dysfunction
Formaldehyde, another frequently used ingredient, is absorbed transdermally or by inhalation and can be found in nail polishes, shampoos and liquid body soaps. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, excessive and prolonged exposure can cause skin rashes and may contribute to the development of cancer.
Parabens are most often used as preservatives and found in body creams, lotions, shampoos as well as any beauty product that has water added to it. Parabens have been shown to disrupt hormones, cause skin reactions and have even been found in breast cancer tumors.
Phthalates are in a class of chemicals that has been linked to hormone disruption, which can affect development and fertility.
Nitrosamines can be found in almost every skin care product, in baby shampoos, mascara, and concealer. You won’t, however find them listed because they are classified as impurities not as ingredients. Many studies link nitrosamine to cancer and in 1996, the FDA suggested cosmetic manufacturers remove ingredients from their products that, when combined, create nitrosamine, but this suggestion has largely been ignored.
These are only a few on the long list of harmful and potentially dangerous chemicals that beauty products expose us to and while the cosmetic industry argues that these toxic ingredients are absorbed in such small amounts that they do not pose any danger, it is the repeated use and thereby cumulative effect of exposure over a lifetime as well as the timing of exposure such as during growth and development, that increases their harmful effects.
Europe takes a hazard-base, precautionary approach when it comes to potentially harmful chemicals and has banned 1100 ingredients from cosmetics, while the United States has banned or restricted only 11. Ironically, U.S. companies selling their products overseas have changed their formulas to comply with European regulations while still using controversial ingredients in products meant for the U.S. market.
Organizations such as cosmeticsinfo.org provide consumers with factual, scientific information on ingredients most commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products.
Trusting Mother Nature, I have been making many of skin care products myself. It really is not all that difficult to make lip balms, shampoos and lotions. If you are curious and would like to find out, how you can create the perfect moisturizer for your skin type, join us for a