Beauty and Cleanliness…at what price?
My jaw is still on the floor. When I looked up my cosmetics on www.cosmeticsdatabase.com, I went on a mission to tell everyone, because what I found is a travesty. Trusted name brand products I’ve used most of my life are not what they appear to be. Problem is, even the “good stuff” is not so good, either.
We all try to do better by buying products with labeling such as “organic” and “natural” and eco-everything. The problem is, there are no legal meanings for these terms. The food industry regulates organic food and some ingredients can be certified as organic. But there are no U.S. regulations for personal care products so you can put whatever you’d like on the label and it doesn’t matter what is inside. Deceit is encouraged.
The “green” industry is growing rapidly as we learn to make healthier and more earth-friendly choices. The problem is without regulation, there are manufacturers who capitalize on this trend and make their confusing labels and false advertising appeal to consumers with no regard for our health. Apparently, profit trumps truth with many cosmetic manufacturers.
Parabens, phthalates and preservatives…oh my!
Europe, Japan and Canada have banned ingredients where the evidence is compelling enough for their scientists, but America has not. In 1938, the FDA granted self-regulation to the cosmetics industry, washing their hands of the responsibility (pun intended) and has been looking the other way ever since.
So what is in our products and why are they so bad? Here is a highlight of a few:
Parabens – These are the most commonly used preservatives, butyl-paraben being the most toxic. A recent report questions their safety, because they mimic estrogen in the body… known to lead to early puberty, infertility issues and reproductive problems.
Phthalates – These are used in cosmetics to cling to the skin and give perfumes, soaps and gels more staying power. Scientists agree that exposure to these chemicals could cause a wide range of health issues, reproductive problems and damage to liver, kidneys and lungs.
Oh My – The complete list is very disturbing with several known-carcinogens (cancer-causing) also found in many products, especially with the ingredient “fragrance” (or parfum, to be fancy). This term is a catchall term to keep ingredients proprietary. When the EPA tested 31 products with “fragrance,” they found more than half contained ingredients listed on the EPA’s Toxic Substance Control Act. Since perfume enters the body through the skin or inhalation, these chemicals are readily absorbed into our fatty tissue.
What about “antibacterial soaps”? These exploded into the market in 1995, claiming to be 10 times more effective at eliminating disease-carrying germs than regular soap. In the years since, they have become a 16 billion dollar a year industry.
Today it’s hard to find soap without the word “antibacterial,” and they almost all contain triclosan, which is extremely drying to the skin, killing skin cells on contact. Triclosan is also toxic to aquatic organisms and has been found in rivers, concentrating in fish tissues. Scientists believe that its over use can lead to development of resistant strands of bacteria and therefore an increase in sickness, asthma and allergies in our families. Most bacteria are not harmful and don’t need to be eliminated. Triclosan does not discriminate between the good and bad bacteria.
For more information on product ingredients, contact me directly at email@example.com, I will send you a free wallet-sized card with all the toxic ingredients to avoid. Be an informed consumer and learn to ignore the marketing hype…in Honor of Planet Earth.
Tracy Himes (“Verde Mom”)
Tracy Himes is LEED Accredited in New Construction, is an Independent Founding Eco-Consultant for Chartreuse, local speaker and operates www.VerdeMom.com.