Did you know that, according to an Environment Working Group survey, the average woman uses a staggering 12 cosmetic products containing 168 unique ingredients per day while the average guy uses 6 products with an average of 85 ingredients?
Isn’t the government protecting me?
Tobacco, pharmaceuticals, lead and asbestos aside, the government wouldn’t allow me to be exposed to toxins – would they? It becomes crystal clear when you discover that the cosmetics industry is a largely self-policing, unregulated industry capable of hiding hundreds of chemicals behind a single word – fragrance.
The Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel does not take into account the multiple exposures from a variety of chemicals when determining “safe as used” on a single product. Fancy marketing claims such as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ can be meaningless without third party certifications to back up the hype.
Green your daily personal care routine
When it comes to cosmetics, not all cosmetics are created equal – nor are they as natural as you’d imagine. Isn’t it time to green your bathroom routine with a medicine cabinet makeover? Here are seven ingredients to avoid in your daily personal care routine.
1. Parabens: These can mimic hormones in the body and disrupt functions of the endocrine system. Used as preservatives in numerous products. Found in the majority of personal care, skincare and makeup products. Including: Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Benzylparaben and Butylparaben.
2. Synthetic fragrance: Also listed as ‘parfum.’ Fragrance is connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma, and allergies. Potentially hundreds of toxic VOC’s are used to scent products, but can be listed under this vague since manufacturers are protected under their ‘trade secrets.’
3. Formaldehyde: A common ingredient found in nail products, hair dye, artificial eyelash adhesives + shampoos. A human carcinogen. Linked to: skin irritation, respiratory problems, and immune system toxicities. You will not see formaldehyde on the label; it is a contaminant of the manufacturing process or formulation. Be wary of and avoid these ingredients: Quaternium, DMDM Hydantoin, and Ureas.
4. Phthalates: Pronounced [THAL-ates]. A plasticizer used to soften vinyl and hold color and scents in products. Found in lipsticks, nail polishes, deodorants, lotions, fragrances and hair sprays. These hormone disruptors have been linked to male genital abnormalities, liver and kidney lesions, and higher rates of childhood asthma and allergies. They’re often hidden under a particular ingredient in an array of products for men, women, and children. Avoid: phthalate, DEP, DBP, fragrance.
5. Triclosan: A popular anti-microbial agent found in antibacterial products, hand sanitizers, and deodorants. This ingredient has been linked to hormone disruption and bacteria resistant “superbugs.” Linked to cancer and endocrine disruption.
6. Lead: A potent neurotoxicant, recently detected in 400 popular brands of lipstick and men’s hair coloring kits. TheEPA has considered lead to be a probable human carcinogen. Found in lipstick and hair dye. Not listed because on ingredients because it’s a contaminant, not an ingredient.
7. Mercury: A neurotoxicant that can severely damage human health is still used in some women’s beauty cosmetics. A known allergen that impairs brain development. Found in mascara and some eye drops.
We must be our own detectives, and make smarter shopping choices. There’s a wonderful (and, free) app for your smartphone called Skin Deep. By scanning the barcode right at the store, you can determine the product’s toxicity rating before purchasing; making shopping smart, safe and oh-so simple!
Feature image courtesy Don Shall