January 8, 2009

Personal Care: The "Greener" Way


If you are just joining us, please start reading from January 6 so you can take the body burden quiz before reading the rest of this series on living a greener life!

You look great today! Really, you do! All the lotioning, deodorizing, spritzing, spraying, and primping has really paid off. Only thing is I think you just exposed your body to about a gazillion different chemicals just to look the way you do now.

Ready to learn the truth about what lurks in our lotions and lipsticks? Trust me, you want to know about this.

Let's start with the laws that govern the personal products and cosmetics industry:

The FDA regulates all the personal care products we use, and that includes cosmetics, under the Federal, Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. But the FDA does not have any authority to mandate that the products covered under the Act are tested for safety. And the FDA cannot require companies to recall products if they are later deemed unsafe.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention this, a company can use ANY raw material they want to when making a product and can market a product WITHOUT approval from the FDA.

So who does keep tabs on the companies that makes the lotions we lather on and the lipsticks we love? The Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel does. They are a panel of experts who are funded by the cosmetic industry. So that means that the people we count on to regulate what goes in the products we put on our skin and faces are being paid by the companies that are looking for their approval. And in the first 30 years of the CIR's existence, they have only tested 11% of the 10,500 ingredients used in all the products you see on the shelves today.

Wait, there's more.

"The Environmental Working Group conducted a sweeping analysis of more than 23,000 cosmetic and personal care products. One of their more amazing findings was that 1 of every 30 products sold in the US fails to meet one or more of the standards set by the industry itself or by the government." Green Goes With Everything, page 85

Here are some of their conclusions:

  • Nearly 400 products sold in the US contain chemicals that are banned in other countries

  • More than 400 products contain chemiclas that the cosmetic industry itself has deemed unsafe when used as directed

  • 98% of the products contain one or more ingredients that have never been tested for their safety

    Curious to see what's in your lotion and lipstick? Go to http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com/ and you can search by brand name or category and see what chemicals are in your products and what their known or suspected effects are to your body. I tried it and it was alarming.

    One last thing, remember how I mentioned that the European Union was phasing out certain chemiclas from cleaning products because of their known affect on humans and the environment? Well, the EU is doing the same thing with chemicals found in personal care products and cosmetics. And they are banning a lot of chemicals that we still find on our shelves here in the US.

    Now let's move on to the good stuff- a breakdown of what we all use to get ready and ways to "green" up our beauty routine.

    Deodorants/Antiperspirants: Get away from the phalathates (chemiclas used for fragrance- we learned about those in cleaning products) and aluminum, a suspected culprit of diseases such as breast cancer, kidney disorders, and Alzheimers. Consider using products from these companies: http://www.burtsbees.com/, http://www.crystaldeodorantprotection.com/, http://www.kissmyface.com/, and http://www.tomsofmaine.com/

    Hair Care Products: Stay away from DMDM hydantion, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, and broponol, as they all contain formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen in humans. Also, most dandruff shampoos contain coal tar, a known human carcinogen. And lastly, stay away from DEA and TEA because they have been shown to potentially cause cancer, too. Consider using products from these companies: http://www.aveda.com/, http://www.aubrey-organics.com/, http://www.shikai.com/, and http://www.jurlique.com/

    Lipstick: Steer clear of lead in your lipstick, but here's the problem, it's typically not listed as an ingredient because the amounts in a tube of lipstick are so minute. But here's the thing about lead- it is a neurotoxin (damages your nerves) and it is something that builds up over time, that's why no level of exposure to lead is safe. Try lipstick from one of these companies: http://www.aubrey-organics.com/, http://www.eccobella.com/, http://www.paulpenders.com/, or http://www.josiemarancosmetics.com/

    Make-up: All of our make-up is laden with synthetic chemicals and most have phathalates. Mineral make-up is your best bet because it is free of talc, perfumes, preservatives, dyes, and mineral oils. But be sure to purchase mineral make-up that does not contain bismuth oxychloride, a known irritant. Here are a few companies that offer a safe line of cosmetics: http://www.aubrey-organics.com/, http://www.eccobella.com/, http://www.paulpenders.com/, and http://www.modecosmetics.com/

  • Sunscreen: Make sure that your sunscreen offers UVB and UVA protection- most tend to leave out UVA protection.

    Skin Care: Be sure to look for products that do not contain coal tar dyes, sodium lauryl sulfate, DEA, propylene glycol, parabens, petroleum distillates, hydroquinone, synthetic fragrances, and formaldehyde. I provided links so you could learn more about these chemicals in my post from January 7. These companies are a sampling of some that offer safe skin care: http://www.burtsbees.com/, http://www.shaklee.com/, http://www.eccobella.com/, http://www.jason-natural.com/, and http://www.originsorganics.com/

    Toothpaste: If you have children, you'll want to give them toothpaste that contains little or no flouride until they learn to spit it out and not swallow it. The reason being is that too much fluoride consumption can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and fluorisis, a condition that leads to the pitting of the teeth and spotting. These companies offer great choices: http://www.burtsbees.com/, http://www.jason-natural.com/, and http://www.tomsofmaine.com/

    Personally, I am not about to throw out all of my products, but rather, I am phasing out "bad" ones and introducing "green" ones. The one item that I did not waste any time on throwing out was anything that went on my lips, and then subsequently in my body because as Glamour magazine found out, a woman comsumes about 4 pounds of lipstick/chapstick in her lifetime just by eating, drinking, and licking out lips. Eeww!

    So here's your chance to share with us what products you love that are "green." Do so by posting a comment for all of us to see.

    Monday's lesson: Oh Baby, You Look Good in Green!

    1 comment:

    A family in Iowa. said...

    Wow! This is shocking. Thanks for doing this, I'm learning a lot!

    I personally love Aveda. I use their foundation, though I didn't see Aveda on your list for make-up. Thoughts?

    Thanks, Justine!!