you know that the FDA does not regulate the cosmetics industry? With
a very few restrictions on ingredients, cosmetics can (and often do)
go from lab to skin with zero testing for long term safety. For
recent study showed that over 60% of the red lipsticks
tested (including by L’Oreal and Dior) contained traceable levels of
lead. Guess where your lipstick goes when it disappears? That’s
right: your mouth. And you thought that putting on toxic lead makeup
died out in the Elizabethan period!
The bad news doesn’t stop there. Many of the
ingredients in the products we use everyday – lotion, shampoo,
deodorant – are also suspected carcinogens, irritants, neurotoxins,
and immunotoxins. The average person comes in contact with well over
200 chemicals every day through personal products. It’s a scary
world out there. Here’s how to navigate it.
Rule #1: Minimize
product use. Even if you do find completely natural and safe
replacements for all of your personal products, it never hurts to
cut down on how many commercial products you use. A little research
will offer you some very safe and inexpensive alternatives you can
make at home. Pure vegetable fats such as shea butter, jojoba, olive
oil, and cocoa butter make highly effective moisturizers, and
ingredients like avocados, lemons, plain yogurt, honey, and sea salt
can be easily made into food-grade masques and scrubs without the
Rule #2: Read
labels religiously. Then buy only products in which the vast
majority of ingredients are things you recognize and can pronounce.
This rule won’t protect you from everything (see Rule #4), but
you’ll avoid the worst offenders by sticking to it. If you’re not
sure about an ingredient, look it up in the
Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It’s the definitive
resource on safety in cosmetics.
Rule #3: Ignore
the marketing. Any cosmetic product can call itself ‘natural,’
‘pure’ or even ‘organic’ without having to back up its claim. These
terms are unregulated and essentially meaningless unless the
ingredients and/or a USDA Organic logo accompany the claim. Don’t
trust any product that doesn’t pass the label test!
Rule #4: Avoid.
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. But if you follow the first
three rules flawlessly, you won’t need to memorize the full list of
ingredients to avoid. There are a lot more villains than the ones
listed; these are just the incredibly common ones.
Over 3,000 unnamed chemicals
could be compounded in this nondescript little word. Since you
have no way of knowing which chemicals (considered a proprietary
blend) are in a product, let alone which could be irritating,
it’s best to leave anything with ‘fragrance’ on the shelf.
Synthetic color. If you see D&C and a number on
anything, you may want to reconsider. Many synthetic colors are
Mineral oil products. Also known as petroleum and
petrolatum, these are byproducts of the oil industry. Mineral
oil is a suspected carcinogen and biaccumulative substance. It
also seals your skin like plastic wrap and is thought to cause
premature aging. The cosmetics industry likes it because it’s
much cheaper than plant-based oils. Ironically, one of its
primary uses is as baby oil.
Anything that ends in –eth has undergone a
process that produces a dangerous contaminant called
1,4-Dioxane, a known carcinogen. Sodium laureth sulfate, which
is in many shampoos and bubble baths, is a very common
ingredient that is worth avoiding.
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Beauty Care Specialists