I’ve been wrestling with that feeling ever since discovering the SkinDeep app I wrote about in How did I not know about this until recently? In sum, it’s a free App and provides information on the health & safety ratings of more than 80,000 products sold in the U.S. cosmetics industry. I’m in my late 30’s, college educated, and professionally employed. I like to consider myself “on top of things.” Yet, it was just six months ago when I learned that the beauty industry, an industry that receives a fair share of my discretionary income, is highly unregulated.
I am an avid label reader when it comes to what goes in my body. While I was pregnant with my first child I made a zealous effort to do everything by the book. After she was born, I continued the healthy habits and made the choice to breastfeed. Within a couple of days she started breaking out in little red bumps on her skin! The pediatrician recognized right away that my baby bundle of joy had a milk protein allergy. She recommended I forego dairy in order to avoid the allergic reaction, or switch to formula. I did what a
sane thrifty person would do. Every bit of dairy was purged from my diet. The result?
- clear skin for my baby (yay!)
- increase in my grocery bill (maybe formula would have been cheaper?)
- the realization that “milk” is in everything (including many “non-dairy” seeming items like breads, crackers, and cereals)
- major weight loss for me (another yay!)
- my sinuses cleared up completely (didn’t even know they were problematic)
- a learning that reading ingredient labels is necessary
Even though I was (and still am) totally ept at reading labels for food items, I was oblivious to the importance of understanding and reading labels for products that go on my body, or countertops, tabletops, dishes, laundry, and the likes… I mean, we live in America right? Everything is regulated. Safe…
So, back to six months ago when my world was totally rocked when I discovered this was not the case. A friend of mine sells BeautyCounter and she provided me with a bit of education. If you’ve not heard of BeautyCounter, it is a newer (premium) cosmetics line dedicated to producing products that meet rigid standards. I’m talking well above and beyond what the FDA requires. It wouldn’t take much though… seriously. Take a guess. How many chemicals do you think are banned from cosmetics in the USA?
Here’s a cute picture of my cuddly kittens to look at while you make your guess…now scroll down and see how close you were to being right.
The U.S. FDA has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics. In comparison, the EU law bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects. Read more about that here.
Now I’m left to my own devices to educate myself and find out just what this means for me as a consumer. This is not just an issue for women’s health either. Men are using products with chemicals in them every day; face wash, body wash, shampoo, dish soap, laundry soap…well…some men use these products…right? Thankfully, I have a husband who actually does. Anyway-
I’ve been thinking a lot about how Valentine’s Day is coming up and a common gift is perfume. Now I’m like…how romantic…here’s your glass jar of sweet smelling toxin. I love you. Sorry if this gives you cancer someday. Ugh.
Here’s a couple of simple things I’ve allowed myself to learn. Like I said earlier, I want to know…but yet I don’t. I’m taking baby steps.
- Fragrance free = nothing extra added to the product
- Unscented = fragrance additive! (a scent used to mask unpleasant chemical smells)
- Fragrances = chemical mysteries. Companies are not required by law to list all the chemicals in a product. They are protected by trade secret laws and only have to list one word: Fragrance.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is working hard to provide education on exactly what all this means for consumers. As I continue to learn information, or discover natural beauty alternatives, I plan to share. Right now I understand that fragrance-free is probably my best bet, but that I still have to read the whole label. Something I pride myself on is being very level-headed and intelligent. Not a reactionary or extremist. In college I took courses where I was asked to evaluate propaganda with a critical eye and I got A’s. I don’t want to be an alarmist. I just want to make informed choices and help others do the same! If you have any specific questions, or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not an expert, but I sure am I motivated learner.
To your health,