Cosmetics store front

If you are like most American women, you use over 12 different products each morning to get ready to face your day. These can include creams, make-up, deodorant, and perfumes.

According to the Environmental Working Group, that means exposing ourselves to 168 chemicals daily. Many of these have never been tested for safety, and many of them (such as lead, phthalates, parabens and triclosan) are already considered harmful.

Did you know that 60,000 chemicals in the market place have never been tested for safety at all? Add that to the ones we already know that are harmful — and women are putting themselves at a health risk each morning.

Campaign for safe cosmetics
Image courtesy of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

This is a women’s health issue. Limiting exposure to chemicals is one way to lower the chances of breast cancer and other health problems related to chemical exposure.

Where to begin? Right here:

1. Do a product purge

If you are anything like me, your drawers are littered with half-used products from years past. Often these were spontaneous purchases — likely linked to low prices or good marketing. In any case, purge products you no longer use consistently, or you know they contain harmful chemicals. Most conventional cosmetics do — although there are some healthful developments in this category. Looking to replace your products with natural alternatives?

2. Use fewer products

Think about your morning routine. Try to as few products as possible. Simplify! The ones you do use, research. See below!

3. Vet your products on the Skin Deep database

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database includes thousands of products. You can search out your favorite brands and products and see how they rate on their safety scale. This is an incredible resource. Sleep-deprived parents, this is for you — see the Skin Deep App that lets you take this information on the go.

Strive to use products that are rated between 0-2 for safety.

4. Buy only from companies that have signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Brands that signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are committed to making products that protect the health of women and girls. If your favorite company hasn’t signed the compact, ask them way.

5. Avoid fragranced products

Fragrances don’t have to be listed on the ingredient lists (why is beyond me). They are linked to many health and environmental problems, including harming wildlife, increasing allergies (especially in children), and can contain phthalates.

According to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, “Phthalates also have been associated with obesity, reduced female fertility, preterm birth and low birthweight, a worsening of allergy and asthma symptoms, and behavior changes.”

6. Support companies you trust

Do you care about women’s health, the environment, the humane treatment of animals? Support companies that care about these issues and want to deliver the safest, best products possible.

7. Spread the word!

Join the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Environmental Working Group, and the Breast Cancer Fund in working with companies to provide safer products and to pass legislation that would keep more women safer from harmful chemicals.

Interested in learning more? Check out Medicine Cabinet Makeover.

Feature image courtesy of halfrain

By Katy Farber

Katy Farber is a teacher, author, blogger from Vermont. She’s currently a teacher in Central Vermont and writes about education, parenting, the environment and sustainability for various websites and publications. Farber is the author of several books including 'Eat Non-Toxic: A Manual For Busy Parents'.