We assume that the cosmetic and personal care products we use every day are safe to use. But the truth is, there is no such regulation today.
The FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) only gets involved with personal care products after they have been for sale and are discovered to be a problem. Some companies test before putting their products up for sale, but it’s not required. That means you and I are testing personal care products as we buy and use them.
The Dark Side of Beauty No One Talks About
Over the past decade, the European Union has regulated or banned over 1,300 chemicals. But in the US, only 11 of those chemicals are banned by the FDA. Many of these chemicals are toxic, and some of them are even potential carcinogens.
So while European products are formulated with stricter guidelines, toxic chemicals are still allowed in beauty products in the United States. Even products like baby wash are not regulated.
A study done by a public interest group learned that 1 in 5 adults using common personal care products were exposed to carcinogens. Women tend to use more items than men, so their risk is even higher.
How to Read Beauty Ingredient Labels
Forget natural. Forget organic. Is it safe? That’s the real question you should be asking!
According to the Organic Consumer Association, toxins can also be present in products labelled “natural” and “organic.”
The ingredients on the back label can tell you what’s inside. There are even a few chemicals of concern that won’t be listed in the ingredient statement. This is because they’re technically byproducts from manufacturing.
On the surface, these ingredients can cause rashes and infections. But in the long-term, these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and remain in parts of the body, including the liver, brain, and heart.
Memorizing the names of each of those 1,300+ chemicals is virtually impossible. But there are a select few that are commonly present in in our beauty products.
All you really need to remember is the Toxic 10.
Other names: Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Benzylparaben, Butylparaben
What they are: Commonly used as preservatives to increase a product’s shelf life.
Why you don’t want them: Parabens change your body’s chemistry by upsetting the hormonal balance, also known as “endocrine disruptors.” May also cause reproductive cancer and accelerate tumor growth.
Other names: Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), Propylene Glycol
What they are: Solvents produced through a process known as ethoxylation which creates a residue of cancer-causing 1,4 Dioxane – as noted on the FDA website.
Why you don’t want them: Prevents skin growth. A known irritant. A known carcinogen.
3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Other names: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
What it is: A harsh detergent commonly used in foaming products like shampoos, body washes, face cleansers and hand washes.
Why you don’t want it: Known irritant. Absorbed through the skin and retained by the body in the eyes, brains, heart and liver. Bypasses the skin’s moisture barrier and increases penetration of cancer causing trace contaminants such as 1,4 Dioxane.
Other names: Mineral oil, Petrolatum, Light Liquid Paraffin, Petroleum Distillate, Mineral jelly, Petroleum jelly
What they are: Petroleum byproducts.
Why you don’t want them: These occlusive ingredients slow the growth of skin cells, trap in toxins, waste and excess oils – not allowing the skin to breathe properly. New research shows they are also contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane.
5. Synthetic Fragrance
Other names: Fragrance
What it is: A blanket term for any chemicals used to create a product’s fragrance. This protects the brand’s scent recipe, but leave us in the dark about the product’s full ingredient list.
Why you don’t want it: Potential allergen. Irritating to the skin, especially sensitive skin. A known neurotoxin.
6. Synthetic Dyes
What they are: Various color additives used to make a product look more appealing.
Why you don’t want them: Many of the colorants are derived from coal tar, which may be carcinogenic.
7. Triethanolamine (TEA)
What it is: Raises the pH of products, especially skin care
Why you don’t want it: Known irritant, sensitizer and can cause contact dermatitis.
What it is: An antimicrobial agent commonly found in hand washes and sanitizers, though some studies suggest that its antibacterial benefits are nonexistent.
Why you don’t want it: It accumulates in our bodies and has been reported to be an endocrine disruptor. Also a concern of bacteria building a resistance.
What they are: Plasticizers used to make many cosmetic ingredients. Phthalates are very common in fragrance, so watch out for fragrance listed as an ingredient, too.
Why you don’t want them: Endocrine disruptor, reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy, structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals, possible link to liver cancer.
10. 1,4 Dioxane
What is it: A contaminant formed as a byproduct during manufacturing of foaming agents, emulsifiers, and solvents used in cosmetics. Typically not listed because it is a byproduct. Check the rest of the Toxic 10 to see what creates 1,4 dioxane byproduct.
Why you don’t want them: According to the FDA and the CDC, 1,4 Dioxane has been found to cause cancer and birth defects.
Safe Beauty, Clean Lifestyle
The same way we are learning to be conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies, we need to be aware of what we’re putting on our bodies, too. Use this knowledge to empower yourself and your family. Take control of your health in a holistic way.
Need to be reminded of which chemicals to look for? Download your Toxic 10 Guide for when you’re on-the-go!