Are Your Cosmetics Safe?


Are Your Cosmetics SafeUpon waking in the morning, we start to get ready for school or work by beginning our morning beauty routine. Most of us will use shampoo, conditioner, bath soap, moisturizer, eye cream, body lotion, deodorant, cosmetics for your face, cheeks, eyes, lips and nails, toothpaste and mouthwash. Before you know it, we will come in contact with 200 or more chemicals before we’ve even had breakfast!

Have you ever read the ingredient labels on your favorite products? Can you even pronounce the names of common ingredients in a “natural” shampoo such as: Cocomide Mea, Ammonium Chloride, Glycol Distearate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Tetrasodium Edta, Dmdm Hydantoin, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, Propylene Glycol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone? I have to ask, what are these chemicals and what are they doing to us?


Most people assume cosmetics and personal care products are tested for safety before being stocked on store shelves. In fact, the personal care product and cosmetic industry is one of the LEAST regulated industries. In the United States, cosmetics are regulated by the FDA. While they require that cosmetics be safe, they do not have the authority to require companies to test their products for safety before they go to market. The safety of the products going to market is in the hands of the very cosmetic companies that make them and are only evaluated through a voluntary program known as the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) process. The CIR has only evaluated 20% of the estimated 12,000 chemicals used. 

The fact is, cosmetic companies may use any ingredient without government review with the exception of color additives and approximately 8 chemicals which are prohibited ingredients. Whereas the European Union has banned 1000 different ingredients from use. It reminds me of the GMO debate in which 65 other countries come from a “wait and see” approach that bans or requires labels on GMOs rather than the “try and see” approach we use here in the US. I’m starting to detect a pattern here.


“All natural” or “organic” aren’t just buzzwords used in food. Many personal care products slap fancy words on the front of their packages hoping you won’t turn it over to read the ingredient label. These products often contain synthetic ingredients and aren’t truly risk-free. Since the market is unregulated, there are no requirements to back up claims. These words have no true meaning on a package and can still contain ingredients that are known hormone disruptors, cancer promoters, carcinogens and neurotoxins.


We are exposed to chemicals in different ways such as breathing in sprays or powders, swallowing them on the or absorbing them through our skin. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and can absorb 60% of what you put on it topically. Laboratory tests reveal that chemicals commonly used in personal care and cosmetic products can be found in our blood supply for a time period ranging from a few hours to decades.


Use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to find out how your personal care products and cosmetics stack up. Enter the product name or search products by a certain company. The EWG then rates the individual products based on the hazard of the ingredients and data available on each ingredient. A low hazard rating + a high data availability score = good score on the product. I try and use products that score between a 0-2, indicating a low hazard.

If you can’t find your product on the EWG, use some common sense. If the product contains a lot of ingredients you cannot pronounce, it’s a good indication you should not be using it. Reduce the amount of products you use and even try making your own from scratch. Remember, being real isn’t just about what goes IN your body, but what goes ON your body is just as significant.

Check out this video for more information on cosmetics:

Until next time, keep it real.

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