Common Sense Guide for Consumers
Safer Cosmetics and Personal Care
How many products do you slather onto your body on a daily basis? Now, consider that cosmetics are among the least regulated products on the market. No standards for safety testing, health monitoring, or labeling. It’s a good idea to take some time to evaluate the products you currently use, and here are some tools to help you find safer alternatives. It can be overwhelming to scrutinize each product you use – so begin by assessing your kids’ products, because kids are the most vulnerable to chemical exposure. Then move on to evaluating your own beauty routines, thinking about which products you use most often and start there.
Find products you can trust:
- Use this in-depth resource: Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database from Environmental Working Group. It’s a searchable database and ranking system to evaluate products. Products are rated by color: green (low hazard) – yellow (moderate hazard) – red (highest hazard), and from 1 to 10, 1 is the best score, 10 the worst. You can search for your favorite product, and then look in that category for similar products that have lower hazard ratings, for alternatives.
- Buy from companies who have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, pledging to make safer products and for more transparency for consumers about their products. Search for them here. These brands are the best safer options, but many of them are smaller and lesser known. The truth is, most major beauty companies face a lot of pressure to keep costs low, and use a lot of cheap synthetic petrochemical ingredients to accomplish this.
- If I’m at the mall, then what should I buy? Good Guide is another resource for evaluating products for health, environmental, and social impacts. They have an iphone app here, for immediate feedback while shopping. Of major beauty brands, Origins and Aveda are examples of better options. They don’t use parabens, phthalates and certain other chemicals of concern.
- The Guide to Less Toxic Products is a concise resource for learning what ingredients to avoid and finding safer personal care products.
Avoid synthetic fragrance. Avoid products with the ingredient “fragrance” or “parfum”. These are generic terms for chemicals that may contain pthalates (hormone disruptors), allergens, and neurotoxins. Unfortunately due to this lack of transparency there is no way to gage safety of these fragrances, so those products are best avoided. For more information on fragrance concerns, look here at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Use Fewer Products. Sometimes, less is more. Every day we’re exposed to chemicals from many different sources, including cosmetics and personal care products. So by using fewer products, you are reducing your exposure.