How many cosmetics or personal grooming agents do YOU use daily? The average woman uses up to 16 products per day and men around 6 per day. Men, before you stop reading, consider this; don’t many of you use shaving balm or shaving cream, deodorant or antiperspirant, lotion, cologne, bath soap, face soap, toothpaste, or lip balm/chap stick? Need I go on?
Ladies, let’s just dive on in shall we? Do we really need to go there, because many of us could open a cosmetic booth in the mall with the number of products we own. And before you say, “Our government protects us and monitors products that are being sold on the market,” here are some quick hard facts about regulations and regulating bodies. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates cosmetics under two laws: 1) The FD & C Act (Food Drug Cosmetic Act and 2) the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. Long story short, cosmetics ARE NOT FDA approved but are said to be FDA regulated. What??????? 😨 This doesn’t even make good sense!
Here’s the kicker: Cosmetics only need FDA approval if color additives are used, however, if a product on the market isn’t within compliance or a firm or individual goes against the laws, the FDA “can” pursue enforcement against them. Oh, but wait a minute! If no one is really diligently looking for problems, this makes our use of many products a huge experiment in my opinion. Also, it puts the burden of reporting adverse effects in the consumers’ laps.
I know you may be thinking, “I only use things labeled as ‘Herbal, Natural or Organic‘”, but just know that there are no legal definitions for these terms. Many companies prey on us by using these meaningless claims on their packaging. Since the 1970s, it’s said that the FDA has only banned about 8 out of thousands of products. I can imagine that this number is not complete seeing that there are so many cosmetic products on the market and growing daily.
Many of these products are deemed safe because of the amounts in which the ingredients that potentially or knowingly cause health hazards are considered acceptable; but what about the cumulative effects by the time we use even 2 or more of these cosmetics daily? Not to mention what some of the products are doing to our unborn children. Most of our children will be born with levels of the below toxins, not even having a fresh start in life.
Here is a very short list of commonly used chemicals in some of our favorite cosmetic products. I will just say that I have much work to do to at the least, minimize me and my family’s exposure to these agents or avoid them altogether:
- Triclosan: this agent is found in many antibacterial products such as toothpaste, lotion and soap. There is some hinting at harmful effects in animals in studies done by the FDA and body hormone levels, more specifically the reproductive organs. It may even be a cancer risk. In addition, being an antibacterial agent may contribute to the increase in antibiotic resistance from certain bacteria.
- 1,4-dioxane: many cosmetics contain a by product of this in low levels, however, it has been shown to induce cancer in rats and high levels may cause organ damage in humans.
- Lead Acetate: I shouldn’t have to go any further with this one, but I will. This is an extremely toxic metal associated with neurological and organ toxicity. It may even play a role in the development of cancer and of course lead poisoning is especially dangerous for kids. This may be in your favorite lipstick or imported cosmetic.
- Formaldehyde: Can I say gross! This is not only cancer causing but used for embalming the dead. Do we really need to use it as a nail hardener?
- Mercury compounds: Mercury is used mainly as a preservative in some eye shadows and other eye make-up as well as some skin whitening creams. The FDA is said to regulate this. This substance is extremely toxic and can be absorbed via the skin and into the brain, causing brain damage. I am sure many of us have heard the theory on the link between mercury and autism in children. There are mercury derivatives in immunizations and these claims have come up by physicians and concerned parents time and time again; however, that’s another story.
- Coal Tar: a product commonly used in shampoos to combat dandruff, hair dyes, treatment for psoriasis. It is a KNOWN human carcinogen. This chemical causes damage to our DNA, thus can lead to a high risk of cancer development. It also can cause increased risk of sunburn and increased risk of skin cancer.
- Phthalates: there are multiple types such as DBP, DMP, and DEP. These are commonly found in nail polish, soap, hairsprays, shampoos and perfumes. They may cause risk to an unborn child and beware that perfumes don’t have to list that they contain these.
- Diethanolamine (DEA): used in lotions, shampoos and other cosmetics as an emulsifier and foaming agent. There are inconclusive results from the Department of Human Health Services that DEA is a carcinogen, but I would say, when in doubt, avoid!
- Mineral Oil: can cause testicular tumors in babies, clogs pores and has not been proven to give the skin anything beneficial. It’s also called liquid petroleum or paraffin oil.
- Sanitary pads and tampons: some of these can contain pepsides and dioxins. These substances can stay in your body for many years.
- Beware of cocoa butter products that are not 100%- they can contain a lot of mineral oil.
- All that glitters is not gold: avoid products that have glitter and unnatural coloring. In general, these products usually contain many of the above agents.
Since cosmetic companies aren’t required to ensure that a product is safe, it’s a great idea to replace products that may be deemed risky with natural things. If you just MUST use something, prioritize. Let’s be realistic, we all need some form of odor protection. Be kind to those around you! So, my list of things to start finding a replacement for are the common everyday things such as:
Deodorant: there is a very good tip I found while cruising Hipster Veggie’s YouTube Channel about using lime juice daily applied to the armpits. You will need to find what works best for you. Also, look for a deodorant free of aluminum. Be good to your brain and prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
Soaps: Look for soaps that are pure and 100%. I am finding that I need to order from online small companies that really take ownership in their products. Go local and know your cosmetic provider if at all possible.
Moisturizers: the best moisturizer I have ever used is coconut oil for hair, body and face. I have sensitive skin and can’t use a lot of products anyway. Used after patting dry after a bath or after washing my face leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized. Make sure you have a product that is organic and 100% coconut oil.
Hair products: the internet is full of ideas on maintaining healthy hair. The old mayonnaise as a conditioner worked for me growing up. A combination of honey, hemp oil and olive oil has been great as a natural styling gel for my hair for many years.
These are my priorities and a few ideas that have helped me. I am already a lover of the natural and things that heal rather than things that go against our health, so I ‘m willing to do without nail polish, makeup, hair dyes and goops in a bottle, etc. The time you invest in shortening your list of things that contain the above products can actually buy you time in your actual lifespan exponentially! I hope that you decide to research how you can limit your exposure of the chemical hazards above and use more natural products. Although not convenient, maybe even be inspired to make your own.
US FDA Cosmetic List Recalls
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