From a young age we're taught to not question authority. To listen to our parents, our grandparents, our teachers, law enforcement, etc. For the most part I believe this to be truth, especially for those people that have lived more, experienced more and generally have some wisdom to bestow upon us.
Now, I am not writing this blog post to indicate otherwise BUT, what I am going to say is that it's okay to learn, educate yourself and do your own research. That just because a product is being sold to consume, to use in our homes or on our bodies does it mean that it's good for us. There are many competing interests in this world (mostly surrounding money) and often what is safe and right can get lost in all of that.
As a seemingly progressive country I was shocked when I learned that the only laws regulating ingredients in US cosmetics was enacted in 1932. Initially I thought, wow we were really on top of it! There are about 11 ingredients on that list. The European Union bans approximately 1300. Yes, that's right I said 11 and 1300. Now, 1300 is a lot, and who knows if any of those are actually used in US cosmetics anyway. However, after digging into some of the ingredients in common cosmetic products, I found some scary stuff. Most of this all came from the Environmental Working Group website, an independent review board that has very strict requirements. Here are some of the products and ingredients I found:
- Mascara, supposedly one of the worst offenders I was surprised to find that Neutrogena's Healthy Volume Mascara was, um, not so healthy after all? These ingredients were found in Almay, Revlon, Rimmel, CoverGirl, L'Oreal, Physicians Formula, Maybelline, Benefit, I could go one and it's scary stuff.
- Carbon colorants (labeled as CI 77266): Moderate evidence to be a carcinogen and negatively impact reproduction.
- Retinyl Acetate: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
- Daily Moisturizers. Guys, I about died on this one. I thought, whatever I've been using can't be THAT bad. Anyone see the Jennifer Anniston commercials for Aveeno. It's NATURAL!? So, you know that should mean safe right? NOPE. have been an aveeno daily moisturizer with SPF user for at least 10 years.
- Octinoxate: Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive
- Fragrance: Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Ecotoxicology
- Shampoo: There are SO MANY shampoos on the market, sometimes I feel like more than anything else. It's one of those products that when you read "botanics" or something like that you think: Plants! Those are great for me! Unfortunately, for something we use everyday it's one of the most polluted.
- Octinoxate: Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
- Parabens: Major endocrine disruptors. Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes, (YES THAT SAID CELLULAR LEVEL CHANGES).
These are just the tip of the iceberg unfortunately. Many other chemicals found in US products that are banned in the European Union include Ethanolamines, Phenacetin, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), Triclosan, Talc and Methylisothiazolinone. I know, these words mean pretty much nothing other than they're hard to pronounce and I know it's impossible to know everything that's in anything and understand what ANY of those chemicals are. The point of this is, be careful and be aware of what you're buying. We don't know how it will impact us now and we don't know how it will impact us as it builds up in our system over the next 10, 15, 20 years. These ingredients are potentially acting as carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, reproductive toxins, or skin, lung, or eye irritants (among other things!). That's scary stuff. Enough that I hope you'll do some research too on what you're using, find products you love that work but are also safe. Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) is a great resource as is CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/). It can certainly feel overwhelming but I believe that getting sick is a lot worse, so do your research.
If you looking for some safe swaps, check out my safer skincare, HERE, page where I offer up some of my favorites that are just a little bit safer.
BE SAFE! xoxo