Let’s talk about 5 common myths about cosmetic safety.
Myth #1: If something is being sold in stores, it must be safe.
The FDA doesn’t require companies to test cosmetic products for safety. There is no government or FDA review or approval needed on ingredients before they can be sold.
Myth #2: The government wouldn’t allow dangerous chemicals in personal products, and companies wouldn’t risk using them.
Cosmetic companies can use any ingredient in their products without review or FDA approval, with the exception of color additives and a few prohibited substances. The European Union has banned more than 1,000 ingredients from cosmetic use. The FDA has banned 11.
Myth #3: Ingredients that are put on the skin don’t get into your body, and if they do, the amounts are too low to matter.
You can be exposed in other ways besides through the skin: breathing in sprays and powders or swallowing chemicals from the lips or hands. Phthalate plasticizers, paraben preservatives, triclosan, and synthetic musks are common pollutants in the bodies of men, women, and children. Many of these chemicals are potential hormone disruptors. Companies often add enhancers that allow ingredients to penetrate deeper and faster into the skin.
Myth #4: Natural and organic products are safe.
These products often contain synthetic chemicals. In 2012, the organic personal care market was valued at more than $7 billion. Products labeled as organic and natural can contain petrochemicals. Certified organic products can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients. An initiative to establish an official definition for the term “natural” was overturned in 1998.
Myth #5: I can read the ingredient label and avoid dangerous chemicals.
The law allows for companies to leave some chemical ingredients off their labels. This includes nanomaterials, trade secrets, and fragrance. The term “fragrance” may be any number of the industry’s 3,100 stock chemicals. None of them are required to be listed. Tests done on some fragrance ingredients have been linked to hormone disruption.
So here’s what you can do.
Some chemicals are too large to enter our bloodstream when applied to our skin, but many are small enough to have no problem at all. In 2005, a study was published that found toxic chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies born in the United States in the fall of 2004. Out of a screening for 400 chemicals, 287 of them were found in the cord blood. 217 of those were neurotoxins. 208 are known to damage growth development or cause birth defects. Some of those toxins included mercury, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, polybrominated and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and furans, perfluorinated chemicals, DDT, chlordane, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated naphthalenes, polychlorinated biphenyls, and others.
If newborn babies had these dangerous chemicals in their blood, how much more do you think adults (including pregnant women!) have?
It can be overwhelming to think about getting rid of EVERYTHING in your makeup bag. Especially if you have products you dearly love. The easiest way to transition is to do a little at a time. Commit to ditching one toxic cosmetic product a month and switching to a safer one. You could start with deodorant in March. April could be ditching your body wash. May, your foundation or concealer. Little changes equal big results!
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