Have you ever thought about what actually goes IN to making your favorite concealer or anti-frizz cream? I’ll bet if you were to go grab one of your cosmetic products right now and actually look up what those crazy ingredients are, you’d probably find that a few of your favorite products have some super-not-so-great ingredients in them. Know why this is? NO OTHER category of consumer products is subject to less government oversight than cosmetics and other personal care products. It is literally up to the consumer to do the research on the products we use to make sure it is safe and will not cause actual health problems; like cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. Crazy right?!
According to the California department of public health; since 2009, 595 cosmetics manufactures have reported using 88 chemicals, in more than 73,000 products, that have been linked to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. Y’all, EIGHTY-EIGHT. The only reason we are able to have access to this information because in 2005 (yes, just in 2005.) California introduced the California Safe Cosmetics act which requires manufacturers to disclose to the California department of public health all products containing ingredients known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive toxicity as determined by certain authoritative scientific bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
But, all the manufacturers have to do is disclose this information. Very few of these products are banned in the US, only 11 out of more than 10,000 used to formulated cosmetics, to be exact. While more that 40 nations, have banned more than 1,400 chemicals or contaminants in cosmetics and personal care products, including those linked to cancer, reproductive harm and neurological harm.
So, lets talk about some of the heavy hitters, shall we. Get aquainted with their nasty selves.
- Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
- Paraformaldehyde, a type of formaldehyde (known carcinogen).
- Methylene glycol, ALSO a type of formaldehyde (yes, a known carcinogen).
- Quaternium 15, which releases formaldehyde (like formaldehyde has got to go, right. Also, this is especially dangerous to hair stylists because it is commonly used as a surfactant in shampoo)
- Mercury, which can damage kidneys and nervous system.
- Dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates, which disrupt hormones and damage the reproductive system. (quick tip: phthalates are a common chemical that comprises the nasty, camouflaged ingredient “FRAGRANCE”)
- Isobutyl and isopropyl parabens, which disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system.
- The long-chain per- and polyflouroalkyl substances known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol and obesity. ( side-note, these nasty buggers are commonly found in Teflon cookware as well. I know, its all really, really bad.)
- M- and o-phemylendediamine, used in hair dyes, which irritate and sensitize the skin, damamge DNA and can cause cancer.
Scary stuff right? That’s what I thought when I started doing my research, and now I check all the ingredients in my cosmetics and personal care products… Why is it that these have all been banned by the European union and many other nations, but not the US? A great question. Now, what can we do about it? Have you ever heard the term “vote with your dollar”? If we start only consuming products that don’t contain these harmful ingredients, the market for these will crash and manufacturers will have no choice but to clean up their act. That’s why I am here, I want to walk besides you on a journey to health and wellness and that includes (now that we know the detriment they can cause) our cosmetics and personal care products.
I look forward to sharing some of my favorite, clean, beauty products with you and hope that you’ll share yours as well! Now I challenge you to go through maybe just your hand soaps, or just your hair care and check the labels and the ingredients. Start small, as this can all be a little overwhelming. Let me know what you find, I truly would love to hear about it.