Toxic Beauty


Most women have morning routines that include beauty products. This morning I decided to count the products I slather on my face and body. Why? Because I learned the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every single day, and I wanted to determine how my routine stacked up.

Here goes:
Body: soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer
Face: tinted moisturizer, concealer, blush, eyeliner

Nine products that I hope have been tested for safety. Hope is the key word here. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel comfortable hoping these products are safe. I want to know they are safe.

I may use a few less products than the average woman, but with 1 of every 13 women exposed to ingredients that are known or probable human carcinogens every day through their use of personal care products, it’s still an unhealthy crap shoot.

Personal care products fall under FDA rules.

I often discuss the toxics chemicals in our homes, schools, workplaces, playgrounds and cleaning products. Most of these products are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But our personal care products: soaps, cosmetics, sunscreens, deodorants, shampoos, hair dye, toothpaste and nail polish are applied directly onto our bodies. These products are overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA does not pre-approve products before they are distributed to stores. According to the FDA,

“With the exception of color additives and a few prohibited ingredients, a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA.” 

If the government doesn’t determine whether these products are safe before they hit the shelves of Sephora, who does?

Who decides whether our personal care products are safe or not?

According to this highly informative article in Teen Vogue, it isn’t a complete free-for-all.

“To ensure their products are safe, many cosmetics companies in the US refer to findings from the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an independent safety-assessment body. The CIR has an expert panel of nine scientists who are responsible for making safety assessments about individual ingredients used in cosmetics.”

Who sits on the CIR “expert panel?”

A trade group that represents the US cosmetics companies, funded by the $60 billion cosmetic industry, called the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC).

I am appalled that the safety assessment of those nine products I put on my body almost every day with the hope that they will keep me healthy may have been researched and deemed “safe” by an industry-funded panel with skin in the game. No pun intended.

We hope our government would protect us from a $60 billion industry that would benefit financially from poisoning us. But it can’t.

Is there hope for our sorely under-regulated beauty routines?

The law that governs these products was written in 1938. After 80 years, three senators are now trying to update it.

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) teamed up on a bipartisan bill. The senators introduced an updated version in May called the Personal Care Products Safety Act of 2017. And, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) released the FDA Cosmetic Safety and Modernization Act Bill last month.

There are a few differences between the Feinstein-Collins bill and the Hatch bill. Most notably, the Hatch proposal does not require companies to share ingredient lists.

To keep the ball rolling, according to the Teen Vogue article, “a bipartisan group in the Senate’s subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will evaluate the two bills and come up with an integrated draft for review.”

Do these bills go far enough?

It’s a mixed bag because the beauty industry would still lack an approval process. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope, as Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, a nonprofit that runs the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (which she also directs), tells Teen Vogue:

“Because it has taken decades to arrive at new legislation for personal care products, there is concern that whatever is passed now is what we’ll be stuck with for a while. We know that we’re only going to get one bite at this apple. It’s been more than 70 years since the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic law was enacted, so we don’t want another 70-year wait before it gets fixed.”

Still hoping for safer personal care products for you and your family?

Contact the offices of Senators FeinsteinCollins, and Hatch, and share your thoughts on these bills.

This article originally published on Moms Clean Air Force.