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  • Suresh Venkatraman

Are Those Toxins In Your Skin Cream? Yup.

Coal tar? Parabens? Butyl what? When was the last time you thought about what you were putting into (and on) your body through your skin? Maybe it’s worth a look to avoid potential problems.

As an organ, the skin absorbs much of what is applied to its surface. So the majority of synthetic chemicals layered during a conventional skincare routine get soaked up by the skin, thus entering your bloodstream.

These chemicals can accumulate in the body throughout life, especially if the liver and kidneys aren’t doing a good enough job filtering and flushing toxins out.

At high concentrations, they can not only wreak havoc on the endocrine and reproductive systems or even cause cancer but the manufacturing and use of products also impacts the environment. If there’s any doubt, check out reputable sources like Canadian-based David Suzuki’s “Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Chemicals To Avoid” or’s list of toxic chemicals or even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) site where they admit “Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, cosmetic products and ingredients do not require FDA approval before they go on the market.”

Should ingredients in cosmetic products really be a concern given their wide distribution, sold in nearly every store and being used by so many people seemingly without harm? Evidence from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show that certain ingredients may act as allergens, irritants, carcinogens, hormone disruptors, pollutants, or environmental contaminants. So what can you do?

Some Ways To Go Green In Cosmetics:

  1. Search the EWG’s database for toxicity.

  2. Search products you use, including safety ratings and whether the ingredients are considered toxic.

  3. Understand how to read labels so you aren’t swayed by often faulty marketing claims.

  4. Anything can be written on packaging to convince consumers to buy products. It’s wise to check labels to know the exact ingredients and concentrations.

  5. Ban unhealthy and toxic products from your household.

  6. Erring on the safe side is better in many dimensions, from the environment to preventing future harm in the form of allergies, asthma, fertility problems, or cancers.

  7. Simplify your skincare routine.

  8. Minimize products and keep in mind that just like food, as a rule products with less ingredients are often safer.

  9. DIY products.

  10. Simple DIY recipes and tips abound online and in books. Buy some basic materials and have a cosmetics-making party.

Oh No? Oh Yes! FDA Has No Say On Ingredients

Although the Safe Cosmetics Act was introduced to Congress in 2013 to give the FDA the authority to create and enforce safety standards, it hasn’t been passed yet. Which means, believe it or not, the FDA doesn’t currently have the authority to force companies to test their products for safety. Even more, according to PETA’s cruelty-free company search, animals are not safe either given animal testing is still used by hundreds of companies.

So What Can You, As A Consumer, Do?

Since US cosmetics aren’t regulated, it is up to consumers to protect themselves and the environment by evaluating ingredients and sending a message with their dollars. A win by any measure.

Author: Malar Ganapathiappan

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