Do you realize that the largest human organ is our SKIN?! Women on average apply 12 products each day onto their skin. Within these products are literally hundreds of unique chemicals that we absorb, inhale and ingest. Some of those chemicals have actually been scientifically linked to cause cancer and other health problems.
But the United States is one of the most relaxed nations when it comes to testing, regulating and banning the chemicals used in our products. In the cosmetic industry alone, the FDA has banned only 11 chemicals, compared to 1,328 banned chemicals in the EU. Canada bans the same 1,328 and takes it one step further; they have labeling requirements that went into effect in 2006 requiring all ingredients to be listed on cosmetic product labels. Increased disclosure allows us to make informed choices on what products we buy and use.
What are the most toxic chemicals used in our cosmetics? Our friends at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners have created a simple pocket guide as part of their Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called the “Red List.” The Red List provides ingredients to avoid in all types of beauty products. For example, in moisturizer (which most of us use daily), read the label to avoid buying products with these known toxic chemicals: Parabans, Polyacrylamide, PTFE, UV filters (octinoxate, oxybenzone, homosolate), and Petrolatum. As a breast cancer survivor, I personally like to also avoid lotions that contain fragrances or phthalates (which are not regulated). These chemicals (and others) are suspected to be endocrine disruptors, which is a fancy way to say that they mess with your hormones.
What can you do to keep you and your skin safe? Knowledge is power, so be an informed, ingredient-conscious consumer. Here are some great sites that provide information and resources to learn more about the quality of the products you (and your family) might use every day: