Can you trust your personal care products?

I would bet that when you go shopping, you assume that most, if not all, of the products you are buying are safe. You probably believe that anything that is not safe could not pass federal inspections and you would not be allowed to place it on the shelves for sale.

I mean, let’s face it, given the size of the government these days; With all the different departments regulating this and that, it is obvious that they check the products before they are allowed to sell.

Well not so much …

When it comes to cosmetic products, you are practically alone. The main authority for these products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), does not have “authority” to require companies to test their products for safety before releasing them to consumers. The only thing the FDA does prior to market release is to check for certain color additives and to verify the active ingredients in any cosmetic product classified as an over-the-counter drug. Not very reassuring, no doubt!

So what else have you assumed about the cosmetic industry that is false?

Certainly, the government bans the use of dangerous chemicals in personal care products! Obviously, companies would not expose themselves to liability by including such chemicals in the ingredients of their products.

Again wrong! Cosmetic manufacturers can use any ingredient or raw material they want, except for the color additives, listed above, without any intervention from a government consumer protection agency.

Did you know …

  • Over 500 products sold in the US Contain ingredients prohibited in cosmetics sold in Japan, Canada, and the European Union.

  • The International Fragrance Association has identified more than 100 products sold in the US that have ingredients that the organization considers unsafe.

  • A substantial number of “nanomaterials” whose safety is questionable can be found in personal care products.

  • 61% of lipstick sold in the US contains lead residue.

  • 60% of sunscreens include oxybenzone, which is easily absorbed through the skin and contaminates nearly 97% of Americans with a hormone disrupting potential.

  • A cancer-causing substance, 1,4-dioxane, can be found in 22% of all personal care products, including those intended for children.

But then, if you think about it, is there really that much risk when applying something to our skin? How dangerous can it be, when so little goes through our skin, right?

Did you know that many products contain penetration enhancers to ensure that the ingredients go deep into our skin? More importantly, it is not necessarily what was rubbed into the skin, but the vehicle that you used to transfer the product. For example, your exposure to risk may be caused by inhaling excess aerosol and dust from aerosols and powders, ingesting chemicals applied to the lips or hands, as well as by absorbing chemicals through the skin. .

Ingredients such as paraben preservatives, triclosan pesticide, synthetic musks, and phthalate plasticizers remain in our bodies and can be found in men, women, and children. Many of these ingredients disrupt our hormones and can lead to health problems such as increased sperm damage, a reduced birth rate in women, and the feminization of the male reproductive system.

Common sense says that products made for children or those that are labeled hypoallergenic would offer greater safety.

If you think that, you would be wrong, once again. Marketing claims made by manufacturers of personal care products are unregulated and they almost never have to substantiate their claims. Manufacturers’ use of the terms “natural” and “hypoallergenic” are used to enhance their marketability and are often not based on reality.

A 2007 study of 1,700 children’s personal care products labeled “mild” or “hypoallergenic” revealed that 81% contained allergens or irritants to the skin and eyes.

The same goes for products labeled organic or natural. Again, these labels enhance consumer attraction to them and are used to increase sales. They do not necessarily reflect the actual ingredients found in a particular product.

Manufacturers often include a sprinkle of natural or organic ingredients just so they can use those terms in their marketing. However, the amounts used are so insignificant that they have no real effect on the performance of the product.

The other point that is often neglected is that even if an ingredient is natural or organic, it is not necessarily safe to use. For example, poison ivy is natural, but you don’t want to rub it all over your skin now, right?

Some personal care products that have been labeled natural or organic have been found to contain petrochemicals and have absolutely no natural or certified organic ingredients. Zip, nothing, nothing! Not only that, but “certified” organic products can have as little as 10% organic ingredients by weight, to be classified as such.

Finally, research has shown that 35% of cosmetic products for children marketed as “natural” include artificial preservatives.

We all tend to believe that in the event that a product causes injury, the FDA will have that product immediately recalled. Sorry to burst that security bubble, but the FDA does not have the authority to do so. Also, manufacturers are not required to report these injuries to the FDA.

Of course, as a knowledgeable person, you always have the ability to read labels and determine for yourself the safety of ingredients in any product. However, with a little caveat. Not only does federal law fail to provide consumer protection, it makes it easy to deceive the manufacturer.

Federal laws allow the exclusion of some ingredients from their labels! Ingredients considered “trade secrets” and the ingredients that make up the fragrance can be excluded from the label. Fragrances may contain some of the most harmful ingredients, but they can be excluded from identification.

If you think the safety of personal care products is only a women’s concern, think again. The following statistics are the results of various surveys and reveal that on average, women use 12 products with 168 ingredients every day, men use 6 products with 85 ingredients, and children are exposed to 61 ingredients a day. That’s a significant amount of exposure to a lot of different chemicals on a daily basis. And remember, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be negatively impacted by those ingredients.

In short, be very, very careful about the personal care products you choose to use. Some of the most popular products endorsed by your favorite television personalities are not what they claim to be.

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