Myth: Cosmetics safety is a concern for women only.
Fact: On average, women use 12 products containing 168 ingredients every day, men use 6 products with 85 ingredients, and children are exposed to an average of 61 ingredients daily.
Myth: If it’s for sale at a supermarket, drugstore or cosmetics counter, it must be safe.
Fact: The FDA has no authority to require companies to test products for safety. The FDA doesn’t review the majority of products or ingredients before they go on the market.
Myth: The cosmetics industry polices itself.
Fact: In its 30+-year history, the industry’s safety panel (the Cosmetic Ingredient Review) has evaluated less than 20% of cosmetics ingredients and found only 11 ingredients unsafe. Its recommendations aren’t binding on companies.
Myth: The government prohibits dangerous chemicals in personal care products.
Fact: Cosmetics companies can use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, without government review.
*22% of all personal care products are contaminated with the cancer-causing impurity 1,4-dioxane, including many children’s products
*60% of sunscreens contain the hormone disruptor oxybenzone
*61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead
Myth: Cosmetic ingredients are applied to the skin and rarely get into the body. When they do, levels are too low to matter.
Fact: People are exposed by breathing in sprays and powders, swallowing chemicals on the lips or hands or absorbing them through the skin. Studies have found common pollutants from cosmetics in men, women and children. Many of these chemicals are hormone disruptors. Products commonly contain chemicals that drive ingredients deeper into the skin. Studies find health problems in people exposed to common fragrance and sunscreen ingredients, including elevated risk for sperm damage, feminization of the male reproductive system, and low birth weight in girls.
Myth: Products made for children or bearing claims like “hypoallergenic” are safer choices.
Fact: Most cosmetic marketing claims are unregulated, and companies aren’t required to back them up, even for children’s products. A company can use a claim like “hypoallergenic” or “natural” to mean anything or nothing at all. Cosmetic companies use these terms for marketing purposes only and they have very little medical meaning. A study of more than 1,700 children’s body care products found that 81% of those marked “gentle” or “hypoallergenic” contained allergens or skin/eye irritants.
Myth: Natural and organic products are always safer.
Fact: Products labeled “natural” or “organic” often contain synthetic chemicals, and even truly natural or organic ingredients aren’t necessarily risk-free. Products labeled organic or natural can contain petrochemicals and nothing organic or natural at all. Products certified as organic can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients by weight or volume. The FDA tried establishing an official definition for the term “natural”, but it was overturned in court. Research shows that 35% of children’s products marketed as “natural” contain artificial preservatives.
Myth: The FDA recalls any product that injures people.
Fact: The FDA has no authority to require recalls of harmful cosmetics. And, manufacturers aren’t required to report cosmetics-related injuries to the agency.
Myth: Consumers can read ingredient labels and avoid products with hazardous chemicals.
Fact: Federal law allows companies to leave many chemicals off labels, including ingredients considered trade secrets and components of fragrance. Fragrance may include any of 3,163 different chemicals, none of which are required to be listed on labels. Fragrance tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage.
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