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Are skin care products bad for you?

Confession time: for years after I switched to a whole foods diet, I was still using all conventional makeup and skincare products that contained known harmful ingredients. I knew that what I was putting in my body had a profound impact on my health, but I wasn’t paying much attention to what I was putting on my body.

Even after doing a ton of research on harmful ingredients in skin care, all of my makeup was just the conventional products from the drugstore because I wasn’t thinking about the harmful ingredients in cosmetic products.

But when I got pregnant with my daughter 4 years ago, I suddenly cared a lot more about what potential dangers were lurking in my lipstick, and how harmful ingredients impacted pregnancy.

It turns out ignorance was bliss. I was shocked to learn how many harmful chemicals are in makeup and skincare products. And I was even more surprised to find out there is little to no government regulation in the cosmetic industry.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every single day. Most contain endocrine disrupters, which can affect hormonal balance and fertility. Some contain ingredients with clear links to cancer.


We put this stuff on our face and lips, we kiss our kiddos with it, and it’s not safe for them or for you.

After researching the harmful ingredients in skincare and cosmetic products and learning more about how it could impact my family’s health, I knew I couldn’t go back to conventional cosmetic products. And I believe more women need to know this information too.

Lack of Regulation Is a Huge Problem in Personal Care Products

Think ingredients with proven harmful effects are regulated in personal care products? Think again. There is almost zero federal regulation of the cosmetics industry in the United States.

A product can go straight from manufacturing to store shelves without any type of approval or mandatory safety testing. The Food and Drug Administration only regulates misbranding or false advertising on packages—not what actually goes inside the packages.

There are over 1,300 chemicals banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union due to questions over their safety. In comparison, the U.S. has only banned 11.

But that’s not the only problem. If a product is sold in stores and consumers (like me and you) report problems—like a lotion caused a severe reaction—the company does not have to report the complaint to the FDA. And even if the FDA is alerted of the complaint? The FDA has no authority to issue a recall of cosmetic products.

That means there’s basically no way to be sure a product is safe before it’s sold, and no way to get unsafe products off of store shelves other than through voluntary testing and recalls done by the cosmetics companies themselves.

Self Regulation is the Only Regulation

So do cosmetic companies do a good job regulating themselves? The Personal Care Products Council funds a review board called the Cosmetic Ingredient Review whose job it is to test cosmetic ingredients for safety. Can we trust them to put consumer’s safety over the bottom line of the companies who fund their research?

There are definitely times when self-regulation has failed.

  • In July 2018, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay a $4.96 billion settlement to 22 women who found asbestos in talc in baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.
  • Guthy-Renker, the manufacturer of WEN hair products, settled a class-action lawsuit for $26 million after consumers said it caused rashes and hair loss.
  • After decades of use in soaps, the FDA finally banned triclosan from soap in 2016 over concerns about its long-term safety and contribution to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, it is still used in many products like toothpaste, mascara, and foundation.

And there are lots of other chemicals that are known to be dangerous (like the ten harmful ingredients to avoid in makeup and skincare products listed below), but are still widely used in the cosmetics industry.

“Natural” Doesn’t Mean A Lot When It Comes to Cosmetics

With food, specific marketing terms are regulated by the FDA. But when it comes to skincare and cosmetic products, there is no regulation.

“Natural” products can contain just as many harmful chemicals as conventional products. Even products labeled “unscented” can contain synthetic fragrances.

The only way to know for sure if there are harmful ingredients in your makeup or skincare products is to read the label. But even then, not every ingredient has to be listed, as some formulations (like for fragrance) are considered “trade secrets” and don’t have to be disclosed.

And perhaps the biggest misconception in cosmetics, switching to natural makeup isn’t always better. In fact, many natural brands, including mineral cosmetics, are some of the worst offenders. They often use a higher concentration of ingredients that are frequently contaminated with heavy metals, like clay.

Heavy metals are found naturally in the earth, and end up in a lot of household items, including cosmetics. The most common toxic heavy metals are aluminum, cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic.

Wondering if your cosmetics contain heavy metals? Check out my in-depth article Does your makeup contain heavy metals? Here’s how to know.

Color cosmetics, including powders and lipsticks, are often contaminated with lead. In fact, Beautycounter tested a wide range of products and found some cosmetic brands contained up to 240 ppm of lead (the FDA encourages manufacturers to limit it to 10 ppm or less).

A Quick Word on Chemicals in Cosmetics

When it comes to cosmetics, “chemical” is not a bad word. Chemicals are nothing to avoid or be feared.

You are made of chemicals. Everything that you can taste, smell, or hold—including water, coconut oil, and even dirt —is made up of chemicals.

There is no such thing as chemical-free cosmetics, and “natural” cosmetics are not free of chemicals. What you want to avoid is harmful chemicals in cosmetics, that is, chemicals that have known harmful effects. Just because cosmetic ingredients are natural, doesn’t make them safe. And just because an ingredient is synthetic doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.

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Sources: Google

Content created and supplied by: Dove Angel (via Opera News )

Environmental Working Group

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