Posted By Dee Stofko on August 1, 2010
Have you ever thought about the ingredients in your shampoo, conditioner, lipstick, mascara, sunscreen? I never did before I watched The Story of Cosmetics,which is the next in a series of shorts by Annie Leonard, director of The Story of Stuff Project.
Annie lays it on the line, and the information she delivers in this 8-minute video is scary. Baby shampoos have carcinogens. Many cosmetics contain chemicals linked to learning disabilities, asthma and damaged sperm. Lipstick has high levels of lead, a proven neurotoxin. Well over half of sunscreen contains the hormone disruptor, oxybenzone. And none of it is regulated by the FDA.
I bet you didn’t know that products put directly on your skin or scalp are absorbed into your bloodstream with no protection whatsoever. At least when you ingest food, the stomach acids break it down and often the dangerous products on or in the food are washed away. The liver and kidneys also help detoxify toxins that are ingested. But products placed directly on the skin are soaked in by the over 1,000 nerve endings with no protection.
Some of the more dangerous ingredients in cosmetics and personal-care products are:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, a degreaser which has been linked to reproductive and neuro-toxicity as well as cancer
- DEA or Diethanolamine, a known and potent carcinogen
- Propylene Glycol, a strong skin irritant
- Parabens, which can lead to diminished muscle mass and extra fat storage
- Fragrance, which can contain a whole slew of potentially dangerous chemicals
Words like “organic,” “natural,” and “free of harsh ingredients” mean nothing because industries are under no strict labeling laws, these links can help. First, many personal products can be home made. There were more than 400,000 recipes found in a Google search for “homemade cosmetics.” Other sites that can be extremely helpful are “Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database” and “Good Guide.” Some helpful tips are:
- look for the USDA Organic seal
- choose fragrance-free products
- pick products in glass bottles rather than plastic
The fact that industries are not required to label personal-care products could soon change. Last month Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 which would set up a system to make industries more accountable. Dangerous chemicals would be phased out and cosmetics ingredients would be periodically tested for safety. Please support this act, and watch the video at the Friends of the Earth website.