Our skin is our largest and most permeable organ, absorbing over 60% of what we put onto it. Think about how a hormone cream, nicotine patch, or prescription cream works. It is absorbed into the bloodstream to deliver its effect. Similarly, the personal care products and cosmetics we apply to our skin each day are absorbed into the bloodstream.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) states that on average, women apply 168 unique ingredients each and every day. The majority of these are synthetic, toxic ingredients known to be carcinogens (cancer-causing), endocrine disruptors (hormone disrupting), and skin irritants.
The (Not-So-Pretty) Facts:
There are over 80,000 chemicals commonly used in the cosmetic industry and only a few thousand of those have been tested for safety. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics states that:
“The European Union bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects. In comparison, the United States has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics.”
A study conducted by the EWG found that babies are born with over 280 chemicals found in the umbilical cord, many of which were toxic. In another study, harmful hormone disrupting chemicals were found in teens. While cosmetics and personal care products aren’t the only source of these chemicals, they play a big role in the amount we are exposed to each day.
A few common ingredients used in personal care products & cosmetics:
Parabens: Petroleum-based, parabens are known endocrine disruptors, contributors to skin cancer, also linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, reducing sperm production and testosterone levels. Avoid any ingredient ending in –paraben.
Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS): A strong skin irritant, often contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane and Nitrosamines, both potent carcinogens.
Lead Acetate: A known neurotoxin, linked to learning problems. Reproductive and developmental toxin that has been shown to reduce fertility and disrupt hormones, possible carcinogen, known respiratory toxin.
Fragrance: completely unregulated, thousands of ingredients can be used under the term ‘fragrance’, many have been found to be carcinogenic, endocrine disruptors, reproductive toxicity, and allergies; often petroleum-based.
Mineral Oils: Another term for petroleum, mineral oil is a known carcinogen.
These are just a few examples of why the ingredients in your everyday products really matter and how they negatively impact your health over time.
While it may seem like the amounts of harmful ingredients in personal care products and cosmetics are too small to do any damage, the concern comes with the long-term, gradual exposure to a combination of dangerous ingredients. Since we are using personal care products and cosmetics every day, we are being continuously exposed to these unnecessary chemicals.
The good news is:
You have control of the products you use and can transition to nontoxic products that perform well and do not contain harmful ingredients. Make sure the products you’re using for yourself and your family are not greenwashed. Also, I’ll be discussing many safe & nontoxic brands that I use and love to help you transition to natural beauty!
The chemicals in the products we use everyday like shampoo, lotion, and toothpaste are contributing to developmental and reproductive problems, cancer, neurological disorders, and much more. The best way to avoid this is by becoming informed and choosing safer, natural alternatives which greatly reduces your exposure to the chemicals used in cosmetics.
Already enjoying the library? Awesome! Access the library here and use the password I sent you to login!
Do you know if your cosmetics and personal care products safe or do they contain harmful ingredients? Let me know in the comments!
Sources and Further Reading:
FDA: Regulation of Cosmetics, FDA Authority Over Cosmetics, Labeling and Label Claims
EWG: Myths of Cosmetic Safety; The Pollution in Newborns, Why This Matters- Cosmetics & Your Health
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Lead in Lipstick; International Laws
Mercola: Beware of Greenwashing, Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics
Breast Cancer Fund: Making Cosmetics Safe
Hannah is the founder of Healthfully Hannah and is a nutrition professional empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Get in touch with Hannah right here.
Looking for more? Don’t miss out on the private Facebook community, where you can ask questions, share ideas, and receive support from hundreds of like-minded women on this journey. I can’t wait to see you in the group!
When you join my community, you'll receive instant access to my library of guides, worksheets and ebooks that will empower you to make simple, yet powerful changes for your health.