Cosmetics Without Carcinogens
If you have been keeping abreast of the latest updates about the cosmetic industry, you probably know by now that many of the personal care products that we use daily, are full of extremely harmful chemicals. Yes – many of the products that we apply on our bodies, can actually cause cancer and serious birth defects.
Before we pooh pooh these ideas (after all, how much can a bit of moisturizer or body spray hurt you?), we would do well to remember that skin is the largest organ in our body, and 1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer this year. Would you voluntarily expose this organ to cancer causing chemicals each and every day? Yet, that is what each of us is doing on a daily basis.
Much has been made of the fact that the EU has banned about 1,400 different chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products, while the U.S. has banned a paltry 11.
Yes, we all know that we should be careful about the ingredients that go into our cosmetics and personal care products, but with so many brands flooding the market, how do we decide which products are good for us? Usually, we go for the reputed brands, assuming that such big names will never make a product that will harm our health. And yet, most of the time, these big names are also the biggest offenders.
Most of the major drugstore and department store brands fall woefully short on safety and environmental standards, even though they may be very popular. As a typical example of mainstream cosmetics brands, here are the most dangerous ingredients The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found when they did a survey of L’Oreal’s products on store shelves:
- Benzophenone-1 in L’Oreal Colour Riche and Maybelline Color Show nail polishes;
- Carbon black in L’Oreal eye liner
- Lead in L’Oreal lipsticks
- Titanium dioxide (in inhalable form) in L’Oreal eye shadows and Maybelline blushes and pressed powders
- Formaldehyde releasing preservatives:
- DMDM hydantoin in L’Oreal Kids shampoos
- Imidazolidinyl urea in L’Oreal mascaras, eye shadows, and both L’Oreal and Maybelline brand eye liners
- Diazolidinyl urea in facial toner, BB cream
- Quaternium-15 in Maybelline Great Lash mascaras
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which can be contaminated with PFOA in L’Oreal eye shadows and Garnier anti-aging products; and
- Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether which can be contaminated with PFOA in L’Oreal eye shadows
- Polyacrylamide which can be contaminated with acrylamide in Garnier anti-aging products
- Talc (in inhalable form) which can be contaminated with asbestiform fibers in L’Oreal eye shadows and Maybelline blushes and pressed powders
As consumers, it is both our right and duty to be mindful about the cosmetics that we use and to ensure that we shun any products which can pose a health hazard to us and our children. Once we start avoiding products that are harmful, we will hit the cosmetic giants where it hurts most – their revenues and bottom lines. Once that happens, perhaps then safe cosmetics will become the norm rather than the exception. It is up to each one of us to make that happen.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “Nearly 90% of the 10,500 ingredients the FDA has determined are used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the CIR, the FDA or any other publicly accountable institution.”
Fortunately, a campaign for safe cosmetics has been gathering momentum in the last few years, and there are several agencies that have taken it upon themselves to analyze and rate the various personal care products that are available in the market. Tools like GoodGuide and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database provide critical health information about many consumer items including personal care products. And if you want to check how effective these products are, then sites like Beautypedia.com and the user reviews on Amazon provide useful information.
So, the next time you buy any of your favorite personal care products, visit a few websites like EWG Skin Deep and GoodGuide and see if they withstand the safety test… or simply purchase products that have zero ingredients that sound like chemicals. Read on for our list of products that are safe.
Based on the data available on these sites, these are our top picks: