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What’s Lurking in Your Lotion? Concerns About Cosmetics Safety

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So, I hope my last article on green cleaning got you thinking about the potential health effects of chemicals in your home. Turns out there are some pretty questionable substances in the things we use to clean ourselves as well.

An astonishing number of shampoos, cleansers, moisturizers and makeup contain chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and other health conditions. Chemicals like parabens and phthalates show up in numerous things we put in our hair and on our faces and bodies every day. I recently checked out some of the products I’ve been using for years on the Environmental Working Group’s impressive cosmetics database. I was shocked to find that even some of my ostensibly “natural” products contain ingredients thought to be hazardous to human health.

You might be wondering how it’s possible the FDA allows such ingredients in personal care products. The FDA responds to problems consumers report after using new products, rather than carefully evaluating new compounds before they go on the market. Because we’re talking about minute quantities of thousands of substances in a wide array of products, direct cause and effect can be hard to prove or even notice. These ingredients are not well understood - the interactions they might have with one another even less so. Until we know more, do you really want to be conducting science experiments in your own body? I certainly don’t.

In 2003, the European Union banned more than 1,000 chemicals linked to birth defects, cancer and other disorders from personal care products. The United States has much less stringent regulations, so if you want to avoid these chemicals, you’re going to have to do the work yourself. One thing you might consider is contacting the companies who make your cosmetics to express your outrage that they are putting known hazards into your makeup and moisturizer.

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EmpowHER Guest

I think it's great that people are writing about these things. I also like how you are exploring the deeper question of why these things are slipping through the FDA regulation. Hopefully, articles like this can people to take action.

On a more personal note, I have dry skin; I've moved away from using moisturizers and lotions, and I now use pure shea butter. I love it, and would recommend trying it as an alternative to lotions. Why use a complex product with many ingredients when something simple and natural will suffice?

October 13, 2010 - 11:00am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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