Are the findings to support a link between personal care products and cancer real?
According to www.safecosmetics.org:
- 1 in 5 personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer
- 80% of beauty products contain ingredients containing hazardous impurities
- 56% of personal care products contain “penetration enhancers,” which aid in delivering products deeper into the skin
Is absorbing trace amounts of ingredients into the pores of your skin or through your mouth really dangerous?
While the amount of toxins absorbed might seem insignificant, when you consider that we’re exposed to these ingredients daily, you can quickly see how these toxins build up in our bodies over time.
What specific ingredients should be avoided?
- Synthetic musks
- Lead and other heavy metals
Why are these hazardous ingredients used in personal care products?
Typically, they act to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination.
However, according to the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) FDA, no evidence exists that soaps or washes containing the ingredient triclosan, for instance, offer additional benefits over those that do not. Yet, in a 2008 study, triclosan was found in the urine of nearly 75% of the U.S. children tested for the ingredient.
An ingredient such as diethyl phthalate (DEP) can be found in toothbrushes, toys, food packaging, cosmetics and aspirin. The ingredient has been found to have adverse affects on the liver and reproductive system, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.
What long-term effects can these ingredients have on the body?
In the case of triclosan, the Mayo Clinic reports the following findings:
- Alters hormone regulation in animals
- Might contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs
- Might harm the immune system
What can you do as a consumer?
- Read labels: Be aware of what’s in products you and your family are using.
- Keep it simple: The fewer ingredients listed on a product, usually the better.
- Look for ingredients you recognize: Aloe or oatmeal, for instance, are typically safe ingredients.
- If it sounds like a chemical, it probably is. Be wary of ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Check the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database for a listing of companies and individual products to determine their safety rating.
What about products with natural or organic claims?
Anyone can call any product natural or organic, but that doesn’t mean it is. Look for the natural seal of approval from the Natural Products Association, indicating a product is at least 95% natural. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal appears on goods at least 95% organic. For those products 70-95% organic, “made with organic ingredients” should appear on the packaging.
What progress is being made regarding safety in the beauty industry?
After pressure for nearly a decade, Proctor and Gamble will stop using DEP and triclosan in personal care products beginning in 2014, according to the site Breast Cancer Fund. In addition, Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, is committed to banning as many as 10 toxic chemicals from products sold in its stores.