If you don't know the answer, then maybe it's time you found out. The Skin Deep Report, a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), found that most common cosmetics -- including lotions, foundations and lip balms -- contained known or probable carcinogens.
Most people use these products without a second thought, and believe that the government must be policing the safety of the ingredients in these commonly used items. But this couldn't be farther from the truth. The government does not require health studies or pre-market testing for these products before they are sold. According to the agency that regulates cosmetics, the FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors,"...a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA" (FDA 1995). And as people apply an average of 126 unique ingredients on their skin daily, these chemicals, whether they seep through the skin, rinse down the drain, or flush down the toilet in human excretions, are causing concerns for human health, and for the impacts they may have to wildlife, rivers and streams.
Everyone uses skincare products and exposures are widespread, and for some people, extensive. The EWG 2004 product use survey shows that more than a quarter of all women, and one of every 100 men, use at least 15 products daily. These exposures add up, and raise questions about the potential health risks by applying these unassessed ingredients to our skin day after day.
We know that the skin is not a solid barrier - it's a penetrable organ (our largest organ) that can easily absorb chemicals, especially with repeat exposure. Dermal absorption is commonly used to transmit chemicals to the bloodstream, notably with nicotine and birth control patches. So we can make the logical assumption that through our skin, the toxins in cosmetics and skincare absorb into our bodies. It is no coincidence that diseases linked to synthetic chemicals - including breast cancer, testicular cancer and reproductive problems - are on the rise.
Several major cosmetics companies, including OPI, Avon, Estee Lauder, L'Oreal, Revlon, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever have thus far refused to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. The Compact for Safe Cosmetics is a pledge to not use chemicals that are known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutation or birth defects in their products and to implement substitution plans that replace hazardous materials with safer alternatives in every market they serve.
We are not referring to trace contaminants like those found at part-per-million or even part-per-billion levels in food and water. These are the base ingredients of the products, just as flour is a key ingredient in bread. These chemicals are found in percent levels in personal care products, nearly all easily penetrate the skin, and some we ingest directly from our lips or hands. Hundreds of companies have already demonstrated that toxic chemicals are unnecessary to the chemical make-up of products that consumers trust and depend on. Great companies such as Burt's Bees, Bonnica and Weleda have all signed and committed to the Compact.
Discover safe, natural skincare products from Alba Botanica, Honeybee Gardens and Kiss My Face. Great cosmetics don't have to come with a hefty price tag and loads of chemicals - try Ecco Bella and Suncoat which users also give rave reviews. So do something good for your body and the environment, support these companies and buy safe, natural skincare and cosmetics.
Reference: Environmental Working Group & Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Author Therese Patterson is also co-owner of EdibleNature.com. EdibleNature.com. EdibleNature is dedicated to providing the finest selection of natural and organic food, nutritional supplements and herbal remedy products from quality manufacturers who are dedicated to eco friendly production. What's good for the Earth is good for you, your home, and your family.
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