What’s Lurking in Your Beauty Products?
I have a question for you, dear readers:
How many beauty and personal care products do you and your family members use per day?
Myself, I go through the usual products: soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion, sunscreen (sometimes), makeup (sometimes), deodorant.
The average adult uses between 9 and 15 products a day, according to a survey conducted by the Environmental Working Group.
Here’s what you might not realize: By using standard, conventional products, the average woman puts more than 150 chemicals on her body every day. The average man? Around 85 chemicals per day.
Why should you care? Well, for starters, our skin is our largest organ, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals like triclosan, formaldehyde, parabens and phthalates, which are commonly found in drugstore products, have been linked to everything from infertility to nervous system problems to cancer. Right now, the public “assumes” these products are safe, simply because they’re available to purchase. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.
How so? Well, for starters, the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act hasn’t been updated since 1938.
So, for the past 80 years, cosmetic companies have been operating with virtually no oversight or accountability. This allows them to pump their products full of cheap chemicals—many of which have been proven to be harmful to our health.
Since the Act was passed, nearly 85,000 chemicals have been introduced into the market, and NONE of them are required to be tested for safety.
You read that right: None. In fact, in the course of its history, the EPA has managed to restrict or ban only 11 chemicals, including olychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, asbestos and chlorofluorocarbon.
The European Union, conversely, has banned more than 1,300 of these chemicals, prompting the question: What do they know that we don’t?
Case in point: in 2014, Johnson & Johnson copped to using both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in their baby products, removing the chemicals only after increased public scrutiny. In Europe, the products are formulated without these chemicals. Why the difference?
(Side note: The Personal Care Products Safety Act, sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and introduced into legislation last year, would amend the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act…but more on that later.)
As for myself, I was a long-time lover of pretty smelly things found at stores like Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. For 20+ years, I slathered and sprayed their lotions and fragrances on my skin. After all, these products are targeted to teens and young adults and boy, did I get suckered in.
And then, I got thyroid cancer.
Being a journalist by trade, I started to investigate possible triggers for this disease. Once I learned the devastating effects that these common chemicals can have on your endocrine system, I began looking at the ingredients list on my beauty products. Nearly every single one contained some type of paraben: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben or benzylparaben.
(Check out this infographic from Dr. Mercola to learn more.)
Of all of the chemicals found in beauty products, parabens seem to be the most nefarious: they’ve been linked to all types of cancers and endocrine problems, and they have been BANNED in Europe. [Read more about parabens here.]
Not here in America, though, where the all-mighty dollar continues to be more important than health of welfare of children and adults.
Yes, I’m bitter. I’m also frustrated and angry, especially considering the fact that I’d been using some of these “baby safe” products on my child. Two years after my diagnosis, I have tossed every single last one of these conventional drugstore products. Gone are my beloved smelly lotions. Gone are the nearly-free Suave products I used to love snagging with double coupons. Gone are the cheap, $3 sunscreens and cosmetic products. Gone, gone, gone.
In the past few years, we’ve replaced our shampoos, bar soaps, body wash, sunscreen and toothpaste and the majority of our cleaning products with all- or mostly natural, non-toxic products. I began researching healthy alternatives and started to learn how very easy it is to find products that are both safe and good for you. Are they more expensive? Yes. Are they worth it? Without a doubt. Are we wealthy? No. Not even close. If you want to make a change, but are worried about the cost, I’ll say this: if we can budget for these products, then so can you. Future posts will share my tips on finding affordable alternatives to conventional products.
I’m not trying to be an alarmist or a fear-monger. However, over the next few posts, I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned through hours of research and expert interviews. I want to use my blog as a platform to educate. Perhaps you’ll change the way you shop for these products; perhaps you won’t. Either way, it’s important to be an informed consumer, especially when the health of our children is at stake.
photo credit: AGRONAUTI Tutti pazzi per DEØ 😎Lo avete già provato? Le ascelle (e i vostri amici) vi hanno già ringraziato? #thanksdeø 👏DEØ 👏Deodorante naturale con burro di karite e bicarbonato di sodio. FRAGRANCE FREE #sheabutter #vegandeodorant #naturaldeo via photopin (license)