Sunday, August 28, 2016

No One Regulates The Ingredients In Your Family's Shampoo, Bath Gel, Moisturizer, Makeup etc Should You?

Did you know that most products we buy over the counter in a store or pharmacy are not regulated by anyone?   

There is absolutely no legal requirement that cosmetic companies ensure their products are safe before selling them... they don't even have to publish what ingredients are in their products... so, yes, even chemicals linked to cancer, chemicals that mess with your hormones and are linked to other serious illnesses can be - and are - found in everyday products.

Let me say that again:  no one is regulating the "personal care " products sold over the counter for  babies, children and adults. Companies can put whatever they want in these products and not tell anyone.  


The answer is:  yes.    Chances are you have many of these unregulated products at home and, chances are, you and your family use them every single day.

Today we are talking, specifically about personal care products.....  those daily use products that fall under the umbrella definition of 'cosmetic'.  

 As the FDA explains it, "cosmetic products and ingredients, do not require FDA approval before they go on the market" Furthermore,  " The (law) does not require cosmetic firms to register their establishments or list their product formulations with FDA. 

What is considered a cosmetic?  Is it just makeup?
Nope, according to the legal definition, even babies use 'cosmetics' on a daily basis because 'cosmetics' are defined as: "Articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance. Among the products included in this definition are skin moisturizers, shampoos, bubble baths,  perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup preparations,  hair colors, deodorants, and some soap/body washes as well as any substance intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product. "

Why should I care
The problem, really, isn't using any one product.  Even the worse chemicals are many times (with some exceptions) placed in small quantities in any given product, which is why many companies will say that it is safe to use their products.  However, what they are not taking into account is that we use these products every single day for years , even decades.  Also, we use more that one product every day..... thus on any given day we are actually exposed to much more than just one toxic chemical.... we are in fact exposed to sometimes hundreds of chemicals depending on your daily product usage ( a pregnant woman might use 12-18  products a day including shampoo, conditioner,body wash, hair gel, toothpaste, foundation, mascara, face moisturizer etc..... exposing her and her unborn fetus to hundreds of chemicals, while young children and babies probably only use shampoo, moisturizer, body wash and diaper rash cream - still exposing them to dozens of chemicals.)

Bellow, a sampling of some of the chemicals that companies can and often freely add to the  products that your family might be using every single day, why you should care enough to avoid them and how:

  • 1,4 DIOXAN
Where is it found: It is found in products that create suds (such as shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath, toothpaste)
Why I should care:  It is a carcinogen linked to organ toxicity, it is created when ingredients react to form this compound when mixed together. " ( read more at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics)1,4-dioxane is considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is included on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer or birth defects 
How to Avoid it: Avoid ingredients including: Sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds, chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth and oleth 

  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) -
Where is it found: shampoos and liquid baby soaps, nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash, color cosmetics.
Why I should care: It is considered a human carcinogen by many expert and government bodies, including the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  It is a common skin allergen and linked to rashes and allergic reactions (it was named the " 2015 American Contact Dermatitis Society Contact Allergen of the Year ").  It is banned from use in cosmetics and toiletries in Japan and Sweden... and its use is restricted in personal care products in the EU.
How to Avoid it: According to Safe you should avoid these ingredients: " Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol). In addition, choose nail products that are labeled formaldehyde-free or “toxic-trio-free” (formaldehyde, toluene and DBP). Skip hair-smoothing products—especially those sold in salons, as salon-based products are exempt from labeling laws. Don’t use expired cosmetic products or store cosmetic products in the sun because this can cause more formaldehyde to be released. "

  • Fragrance
Where is it found: Just about everything from baby to adult products has fragrance these days.   This can include: sunscreen, shampoo, soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup, facial cream, skin toner, serums, exfoliating scrubs and, yes, even perfume - 
Why I should care: The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) lists 3,059 materials that are reported as being used in fragrance compounds....many of which are linked to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.  Infants and pregnant woman should be especially cautious since some of these chemicals can affect a developing babies hormones.   
How to Avoid it: Follow your nose.   Avoid synthetic (fake) smells, especially for babies (babies smell amazing on their own!!) Avoid ingredients that just say: Fragrance, perfume, parfum, essential oil blend, aroma; once again especially for babies, young children and pregnant women.

What to do

  • Use less.  Using less daily products will assure that you use less chemicals. 
  • Look it up.  It can be a challenge and even useless to rely on ingredients listed, since many of these daily use products do not have to disclose their ingredients.  However,  you can look up just about all personal use product on the Think Dirty App (for Iphone or Androids) or on the Environmental Group's Skin Deep Database.   Use these databases every time you are in the store or trying a new product- they will give you a rating so that you know how safe it is and list the ingredients and rate those for safety.
  • Switch to safer.   Need a moisturizer?  Try coconut oil or sunflower oil.  Daily hair conditioner?  Try Organic apple cider vinegar (especially if you are pregnant or for infants).
  • Be specially cautious when pregnant.   This is really the time to streamline AND switch to safer.  Everything a pregnant woman is exposed (either when her skin absorbs it, she inhales it or ingests it)  can make its way to unborn developing fetus. No generation has been exposed to so many chemicals before even being born (the average baby's umbilical cord blood has over 200 chemicals running through it!) and the short and long term risk for health effects due to continual exposure to chemicals during these periods of rapid development are major.
  • Make New Friends.   Today there are a good number of companies that are producing high quality and safe personal care products you can count on.   BeautyCounter, Dr Bronners, Babyganics are just the tip of the iceberg.   Check out our online store for more products that are safe and 

Make change happen There are numerous other chemicals that can be found in daily use personal care products.  Until the laws in the US don't change, 'cosmetic' companies will continue to use us and our families as guinea pigs as they mix and match cocktails of chemicals without really caring what potential long term effect to so many unregulated chemicals might have on their clients.   Not to mention the fact that trying to find a 'safe' shampoo, moisturizer or bath gel at our local pharmacy will continue to be a time consuming challenge (  I recently spent 40 minutes at a CVS while traveling cross-referencing all of the facial moisturizers on the EWG Skin Deep Database until I finally found one with a low rating that I purchased!) .  Considering how busy we are as parents, this is truly unacceptable.   

If you find this as frustrating as I do, I encourage you to visit The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics This website is filled with wonderful tips and, additionally, easy ways you can get involved and have your voice heard to try to make change happen in the 'cosmetic' industry.  Remember, it is not only cosmetics, as in makeup, we are talking about products that adults, teenagers and babies use on a daily basis that are exposing us to toxic chemicals..... legally. 

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