Guess what? By the time you’ve showered, coiffed your do, applied lotion and deodorant and make-up and fragrance, you have potentially exposed yourself to hundreds of chemicals: toxic cancer causing chemicals. These chemicals invade your bloodstream and, without a doubt, are harmful to our health. Even tests on newborn umbilical cords reveal that they are exposed to pollutants in the womb.
Toxins Lurking Within
Common cosmetic contaminants include parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, PABA, petroleum, paraffin, DEA, and synthetic fragrance. All of them above are proven carcinogens, neurotoxins, hormone disrupters, and allergens. Sadly, they can even be found in products made for infants and children. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are over 500 chemicals found in cosmetic products sold in the United States that are banned in Japan, Canada, and Europe. Thanks to a legislative loophole, the FDA has no true power to review the safety of cosmetic products or to issue cosmetic recalls.
Making Wise Cosmetics Choices
Americans have gotten hip to the poison game, and have been advocating furiously for safer products. Many cosmetic companies have begun to offer products that are either organic, contain significant amounts of organic ingredients, or at least free from chemicals that are known to be harmful. Still a large number of ingredients are used in our cosmetics and have never been tested for safety. EWG runs a cosmetics database where individuals can look up ingredients and toxicity levels of a wide array of brands and products. The site currently averages 1 to 2 million monthly searches.
The Proposed Legislation
The Safe Cosmetics Act would provide the FDA with the regulatory power needed to ensure that the cosmetics industry uses safer ingredients. Companies would be required to register the products they sell with the FDA and to fully disclose ingredients and share safety data with other companies. Although not all aspects of the legislation have been laid out, one big item is that the fragrance industry, who has for years been able to keep most ingredients in their products unlisted citing “trade secret’ claims, would also have to comply with the full disclosure requirements.
Sadly, the corporate cosmetics machine won’t take it upon themselves to act responsibly when it comes to the American public. Even our children aren’t off limits. The EU passed legislation banning toxic chemicals from their cosmetics back in 2003. Finally there is legislation being tossed around that would invoke a major shift in the way the cosmetics industry does business. Take the time and write to your congressional representatives and let them know the time is now!
The larger problem we are facing is that we have “tested” and deemed “safe” tens of thousands of chemicals on animals only to find that the many results are not accurate in humans. It’s time to use human-relevant non-animal testing practices as outlined by the National Academy of Sciences report, “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy in 2007.”
The potential for chemical reform is quite exciting, but it should be done in a way that doesn’t sacrifice millions of animals (for toxicity testing) in the name of better protection for human health. We need Congress to mandate and create market incentives to use nonanimal methods and tests.
The other day I stumbled upon a 100% green make up line. The creator was compelled to create it once her friend died from lung cancer due to chemicals in lipgloss. I think the name of the company is Lamik and is based in atlanta
It is one way to trust that the law will safe you from toxic cosmetics, but I would not trust anyone else but myself: I check every label of every product I buy (and I don’t buy so many any more, replacing most cosmetic needs with homemade solutions) and make sure everything that is in it is OK for me and/or my child. Political pressure is good but will never lead no laws that are good enough, because the industry has all the power in the US.