The Ugly Truth About Your Beauty Products
Oh, the irony.
You know all those creams, sprays, powders, pastes, sticks, and gels you douse yourself with everyday? Turns out, they aren’t actually so lovely on the inside…. (and what’s on the inside counts!)
The majority of the ingredients inside these beauty products that go directly onto our skin, are completely unregulated. There’s not a governing agency out there making sure that all shelf-ready “beauty” products are actually safe for you and your long-term use.
Turns out, 80% of them have never even been tested for safety! Out of the 13,000 chemicals use in cosmetics and beauty products in the US, less than 10% of them have been regulated for human use.
So what is going on?
“The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market” (fda.gov)
So cosmetics can start appearing on drug store shelves without any type of standardized testing, approval or formal safety process.
So, what this means is that cosmetic products aren't individually approved before they go on the market, because it’s simply not required by law. That of course includes any moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, nail polish, eye makeup, skin corrective makeup, shampoos, conditioners, hair colors, deodorants, anti-perspirants and anything else intended for beauty purposes.
To define cosmetics: “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance”. Source
All of these products lining the drug and beauty stores' shelves are chock-full of thousands of chemicals and no one is formally regulating them before they appear there. Shouldn't we be concerned?
So who IS in charge of safety and testing?
The FDA’s website says that the companies who manufacture the beauty products are the ones who have to deem it safe:
“Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products. Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients. The law also does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with FDA.” (fda.gov)
But hang on a second - if the company is selling cosmetics to me, and no one is checking these cosmetics’ ingredients except them, how do we know what they say is legit?
Honestly, we can't know for sure. See how this creates a conflict of interest?
These massive companies are entirely responsible for deciding the safety of their very own cosmetics and beauty products. What’s more, there are no required tests to prove the are safe, and they don't have to share safety data about their products with anyone, not even the government.
So we’re supposed to just take their word for it and hand over the money?
When we look at the amount of cosmetics and beauty products sold annually, we can see it is booming business. In the US alone, the beauty industry brings in over $60 BILLION dollars annually. These numbers are hardly even affected by economic crises.
Women value their vanity, that is a widely known fact. The average US woman uses 12 personal care products and cosmetics on her body every day. When you think that these 12 products have not been regulated by any agency for safe ingredients, especially with long term use, you might start to wonder why.
Even more alarming, within these 12 beauty products applied on our average US woman, are more than 168 different chemicals (according to the Environmental Working Group). This kind of chemical exposure on a daily basis especially over the long term, is not being monitored. This enormous amount of various mixtures of chemicals on the skin is certainly not insignificant, especially over a lifetime. Teenagers, who are just getting started with their beauty and cosmetic routines were found to have on average 16 different hormone-altering chemicals (parabens and phthalates were detected) in their bodies when the EWG conducted a study.
Clearly, this is not something to be ignored. If beauty products are altering hormones in the female body, it is no wonder women struggle with various hormone-related issues including weight gain and irregular menstrual cycles.
When were the regulations on cosmetics last updated?
This one’s a shocker. The regulations on cosmetics haven’t been revisited since Franklin D. Roosevelt was President of the USA. Yeah, you read that right. The last time Congress passed a law regarding the safety of cosmetics was in the 1930s!
The Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (also known as the FDCA) was passed in 1938. This Act designated all testing, monitoring and substantiating safety directly to the cosmetics companies. Since 1938, its been entirely up to cosmetic companies to decide if what they are putting in their products is safe for your health. Sounds like a little bit of a free-for-all for the booming industry.
A lot has changed since Roosevelt was President, as you might be aware. The fact that the cosmetic industry can basically put a chemical cocktail in a bottle and sell it to you as a “beauty product” without proving long-term safety may seem a bit archaic. As time has progressed, our awareness of harmful chemicals and their health consequences has grown immensely, and there is plenty of science to prove it.
As US citizens, we want to trust that our government is actively ensuring the safety of what is being marketed and sold to us, especially when we apply it to our bodies. Sadly, this isn’t always true. Toxic chemicals continue to appear in our products and little is being done about it. To make matters worse, the chemical industry spends millions each year to fight regulation of toxic chemicals, the very things that keep their pockets lined with cash.
As far as the developed world goes, the USA is far behind in its regulations of safety. The EU and Canada have much stricter policies about what chemicals shouldn't be allowed in cosmetics.
One interesting example is that the Food and Drug Administration “places no restrictions on the use of formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing ingredients in cosmetics or personal care products. Yet formaldehyde-releasing agents are banned from these products in Japan and Sweden while their levels — and that of formaldehyde — are limited elsewhere in Europe”. (Source)
The 1976 law meant to regulate the use of chemicals in the U.S., the Toxic Substances Control Act, is supposed to ensure that the chemicals used in manufacturing are safe. Unfortunately, similar to the FDCA, this act does little to ensure safety in everyday consumer products, cosmetics included.
These two laws, while outdated, are important in what they are meant to ensure for U.S. citizens and chemical safety. Sadly, they haven’t been all that effective. Ensuring that the FDA routinely tests beauty products’ ingredients, and allowing them the option to issue a recall or disapprove ingredients would be a good start in the way of policy change.
Let's revisit the key points:
there are more than 13,000 chemicals in beauty products and cosmetics, less than 10% of which have been regulated in the U.S.
the average U.S. woman puts over 150 different chemicals on her body per day
the two laws in the U.S. regulating safety of chemical use are extremely outdated
studies have proven that these toxic chemicals are being detected in women’s bodies (many of which are hormone disrupting)
the cosmetic industry is in charge of making sure their own products are safe, which is a conflict of interest
So how do we limit our chemical exposure? How to know what is safe?
We are exposed to toxins every day, from the air, the environment, our personal care products and cosmetics, to everyday household items. We can’t escape them completely, but we can make better decisions as consumers.
When searching for cleaner products for your beauty routine, be careful of products labeled “all-natural”, as these can still contain many harmful chemicals. "All Natural" is an unregulated term that doesn't certify or guarantee any sort of quality standard.
I’m personally a big believer in cutting down your beauty routine to the very basics. I make some of my own beauty products, but I also rely on just a couple of companies that I trust 100%. I am extremely brand loyal because I spend time doing plenty of research before I decide what is a quality product I could trust. I care about what these brands stand for and their commitment to quality. When it comes to what I put on my skin, I am extremely picky, and you should be too. You should always remember that your skin is your largest most permeable organ. What you put on your skin will end up in your bloodstream, and may accumulate in your body over time.
Take a look at what's in your bathroom cabinets and on your vanity.
Do you really need all that stuff? Do you know what chemicals are hiding in there that you're putting directly on your body?
It might be time to eliminate and simplify. Tons of lotions, creams, perfumes (which can contain up to 3,000 chemicals, btw), hair products, and serums can be easily eliminated and replaced with coconut oil, jojoba oil, and pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils (don't just buy any essential oil from the store though, this is a whole other issue).
(Psst...If you're interested in what nontoxic and effective skincare I personally trust, check out this post.)
Ask yourself this, “if i can’t eat it, why is it going in my body?”
There are alternatives to cheap, common and likely toxic products that women buy every day without knowing better. I honestly believe that these simple alternatives work better and smell better (who wants to smell like Vanilla Spice Cream Latte?) than these mass-produced products. There’s literally no reason why you should be dousing yourself in a chemical cocktail and risking long-term health effects, including potential fertility issues.
Take care of your body, because you only get one. Invest in yourself now, and the results will come. Your health is a long-term investment, not an expense!
When making the switch to green beauty, pure essential oils are the natural first step. The simple truth is that if you are not using essential oils (aka plant extracts), you are exposed to chemicals. Unfortunately, due to their increasing popularity, there are a lot of inauthentic oils on the market. That's why I encourage you to purchase your kit from Young Living, as I stand behind the quality of each and every product.