Do you think your cosmetics are safe?

When it comes to the safety of our personal care products, many of us choose to live in a fantasy world. Sure, our environment is polluted and it’s getting harder to find clean water to drink or fresh air to breathe—but how could there be any contaminants in our beauty products?

No matter how hard the beauty business proclaims innocence, the undeniable truth is that many of the ingredients in make-up and skin care are toxic to our bodies. It’s time to uncover some beauty truths. 

When this huge multi-billion dollar industry began, manufacturers and consumers believed that the skin was a protective barrier that didn't allow anything to absorb into the body. Because of this, cosmetics and beauty products have been exempt from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. Despite the fact that we now know differently - that skin is your body's largest organ that does, in fact, interact with its environment and absorb much of what is applied to it (consider how many drugs are now being administered through a skin-patch) - the FDA does not have the legislative power to regulate the cosmetic/skincare industry for safety, other than for a few banned ingredients and regarding dyes.

According to the FDA:

(FDA 1999)…  cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without approval from the FDA.                                     

(FDA 1995)… the FDA cannot require a company to do safety testing of their products before marketing.

(FDA2000/CIR 2003)… Of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products, 89% have not been reviewed by the Cosmetic Industry Review (CIR) or the FDA.

In 1989, a house subcommittee asked the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to analyze 2938 chemicals used in personal care products with the result that: 884 of the ingredients were found to be toxic

  • 884 of the ingredients were found to be toxic 
  • 778 of these can cause acute toxicity
  • 146 can cause tumors
  • 218 can cause reproductive complications
  • 314 can cause biological mutation
  • 376 can cause skin and eye irritation

Remember, this test was performed in 1989, and thousands of new chemicals are introduced to us every year – chemicals for which no safety testing is required.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted research on dozens of synthetic chemicals and, after reviewing nearly 300 studies, has concluded that ingredients in shampoos, hair dyes, and other everyday products may be playing havoc with our hormones that control reproduction. We are polluting our physical form and altering our cell structure with this constant chemical assault.

Also frightening is the fact that in order to prevent disclosure of what they believe to be unique ingredients in their product and keep an edge on their competition, companies can also petition the FDA for trade secret status. This means money for the company and spells disaster for consumers because we will never know what this secret ingredient is, or what the long term damage to our health might be.

Likewise, cosmetic companies are not required to list all of their ingredients on product labels if they add only small amounts of an ingredient into a formula. Again, as consumers, we don’t know what ingredients we’re being exposed to. Worse still, manufacturers use penetration enhancers to help cosmetics and skincare penetrate the skin. These enhances allow easy access of chemicals into your body, which may slowly accumulate over time in fat and organs, and create all sorts of long term problems for the future.

Researchers now believe that 85-95% of cancer can be traced to environmental exposure from the foods we eat, the air we breathe and the chemicals that we are exposed to. The European Union has banned approximately 450 ingredients from personal care products, in contrast to just 9 banned by the FDA. Our standards must become be more in line with Europe.


Allergenic: causing an allergic reaction

Carcinogenic (carcinogen): known to cause cancer

Mutagenic: alters the genetic code of our cells

Toxic: poisonous; dangerous to life and well being; short or long-term effect