Most of us probably assume that our personal care products are safe because the products are carefully regulated and do not contain harmful ingredients. Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Food and Drug Administration has no authority to review or approve the vast majority of products or ingredients before they go on the market.
While it seems hard to believe, other countries have banned ingredients that are found in many US products. For instance, the EWG cites that more than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain ingredients banned in cosmetics in Japan, Canada or the European Union.
Sadly, our personal care products include ingredients like parabens, phthalates and other known toxins and carcinogens. When I checked my personal products, most of them included parabens. Parabens have been linked to cancer through a limited study. Recently, experts have discovered that parabens mimic the female hormone estrogen. When estrogen-like substances are absorbed by the body, they can disrupt the body’s normal hormone production contributing to cancer and other health issues. Phthalates are found in many cosmetics and “according to in vivo and observational studies by Davis et al (1994) and Lopez-Carillo et al (2010), there is an association between phthalate exposure and endocrine disruption leading to development of breast cancer.”
Chances are that some or many of your personal care products contain questionable or harmful ingredients. So what should you do? A great place to begin is to check out EWGs Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
This site is sponsored by the EWG and contains over 70,000 product ratings that will allow you to decode your product labels and make healthy choices. It is probably best to start with one product type – like hair and bath products and then move on to cosmetics and face products. After you enter your product name, the database will return a rating from A-F indicating the level of risk. More information is provided about the risk based on the various ingredients.
While it can be stressful to learn that some of your products may not be healthy for you, the great news is that the site also provides lower risk alternatives so you can easily replace your old products with new ones. You will probably be stunned at the results but think how great you will feel knowing that you are taking positive steps.
Environmental Working Group – EWG.org