Every day we use multiple personal care products—from shampoo to deodorant, lotion to make-up—that contain chemical ingredients that are absorbed through the skin, inhaled or ingested. So it’s not surprising that potentially harmful chemicals have gotten into our bodies, our breast milk and our children. Some of these chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other health problems that are epidemic in our society. Astonishingly, in the United States, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are expected to develop cancer during their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute. The cosmetics industry says that it's safe to put toxic chemicals linked to cancer, infertility or other health problems into personal care products because the amount in each product is too small to matter. But none of us use just one product. Think about how many products you use in a single day— from toothpaste to soap, shampoo, hair conditioner, deodorant, body lotion, shaving products and makeup—and how many products you use in a year, and over a lifetime. Small amounts of toxic chemicals add up and can accumulate in our bodies. Chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects do not belong in personal care products, period.
Major loopholes in federal law prevent the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any
other government agency from approving the safety of cosmetics and body care products before they can be sold. The European Union now bans more than 1,100 chemicals from personal care products because they may cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive problems. In stark contrast, just 10 ingredients are banned from cosmetics in the United States.
Manufacturers say their products are safe. But what do those claims really mean? It may mean that the company has tested the ingredients it uses—but only to determine if the chemicals cause rashes, swelling or other acute reactions. Companies are not required to test the ingredients in their products to determine if they cause longterm, negative health effects,
such as cancer or the inability to have a healthy child. Since there is no government standard
for safety, companies can say whatever they want about the safety of their products.
Few ingredients have been assessed for long-term health impacts, but those that have—and are known or suspected to be toxic—are still allowed in cosmetics. Seven of the most problematic are:
Often listed as thimerosal on ingredient labels, mercury is a possible human carcinogen, and a human reproductive or developmental toxin. Found in some eye drops, ointments and mascaras.
Placenta produces progesterone, estrogen and other hormones that can interfere with the body’s normal hormone functions and can lead to serious health problems—like breast cancer—when used in cosmetics. Sometimes used in hair relaxers, moisturizers and toners.
This compound of lead is a known human reproductive and developmental toxin. Prohibited from use in cosmetics in the European Union. Found in some hair dyes and cleansers.
These byproducts of crude oil (appearing on labels as petrolatum, mineral oil and paraffin) may contain known or suspected human carcinogens as well as harmful breakdown products or impurities from manufacturing processes (such as 1,4-Dioxane), which are not listed on
ingredient labels. Found in some hair relaxers, shampoos, anti-aging creams, mascaras, erfumes, foundations, lipsticks and lip balms.
These plasticizing chemicals are probable human reproductive or developmental toxins and endocrine disruptors. Two phthalates often used in cosmetics (dibutyl and diethylhexyl) have been banned in the European Union. Found in some nail polishes, fragrances and hair sprays.
A possible carcinogen and probable neurotoxin and skin sensitizer, hydroquinone can also cause a skin disease called ochronosis, which leaves irreversible black-blue lesions on skin. Found in some skin lightening products and moisturizers.
Extremely tiny particles which are largely untested and unlabeled in personal care products,
capable of being absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Found in some eye shadows, bronzers, sunscreens and lotions.
For example - Neutrogena After Sun Treatment with Natural Soy has one of the highest hazard ratings. What's so "natural" about a product with more than 10 different ingredients that raise
health concerns? Neutrogena is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which markets its products as superior because of their "natural" properties and recommendations from health-care providers.
Do we still want to neglect reading the label??