October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so today I talked about potentially hazardous ingredients in beauty and personal care products on Fox 2 News in St. Louis. The average woman uses about 12 products containing about 168 different ingredients each day, according to the watchdog group the Environmental Working Group. The average man uses about half that.
While many of these products are designed to penetrate the skin, the EWG reports that no health studies or pre-market testing are required for these products in the U.S. The FDA does no safety testing and authorizes the cosmetics industry to self-police itself. And yet the EWG found 16 potentially toxic chemicals linked to cancer and hormone disruption – like phthalates, parabens, triclosan and musks – in blood and urine samples in teen girls. Here’s video of my interview and below it is more information.
How Do You Know What’s Safe?
- For the last eight years, the EWG has been researching and advocating for personal care product safety. They have developed the Skin Deep Database where you can search 62,000 products and individual ingredients for safety.
- You can also search products through the EWG Healthy Living App, where you can search more than 120,000 foods and personal care products.
- The Breast Cancer Fund also provides a list of potentially hazardous ingredients to avoid.
What To Watch Out For?
- Hair. The EWG recommends avoiding or limiting dark, permanent hair dyes and chemical hair straighteners and keratin treatments. They say many contain coal tar ingredients linked to cancer.
- Nails. Avoid formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).
- Avoid Triclosan. Found in a wide variety of products with antimicrobial properties, like cleaning products. The Breast Cancer Fund reports that this chemical (classified as a pesticide) can affect the body’s hormonal system and may disrupt normal breast development.
- Avoid Plastics. Phthalates are considered endocrine disruptors that may increase breast cancer risk. Plastic can also leach chemicals into your food when heated.
- Nails. Look for “5-free” and “10-free” polishes like those from Trust Fund Beauty, which are 10-free, cruelty-free, paraben-free and vegan.
- Choose Products with the Healthy Living App. Choose products that score well with low-hazard scores.
- Weleda products typically score extremely well. Weleda makes certified natural skin care, free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colorants and raw materials derived from mineral oils. They make lovely, highly effective skin care for the face and body, hair care, and products especially for babies and children, who are less capable of handling hazardous chemicals.
- 100% Pure also scores exceptionally well. 100% Pure is an organic line that offers a full range of skin care for face and body, hair care and outstanding makeup pigmented with fruits, vegetables, tea and even chocolate. Everything is 100% natural, 100% cruelty-free, 100% free of artificial colors, artificial fragrances, synthetic chemical preservatives and all other toxins.
- Choose Glass or Stainless Steel Over Plastic. ECOlunchbox is a great line of food containers that are free of plastic, BPA and phthalates. They’re made with sturdy yet not-too-heavy stainless steel. You can use them to tote meals and snacks – everything from veggies, fruits, soups, pastas and yogurt. They offer plastic-free and leak-free silicone lids. All parts are dishwasher and oven safe.