Many commercial cosmetics and skincare products contain ingredients that can cause health problems including links to cancers. These are absorbed through our largest organ, the skin. On average, women use products containing 168 ingredients a day.
As consumers, unfortunately, the health and safety of us and our loved ones are often left in our hands. While many of us pay a lot of attention to what we put IN our bodies, not much thought goes into what we put ON our bodies.
What we put on our bodies, goes in our bodies.
Did you know that the European Union has banned or restricted the use of ~1400 ingredients from products, while in the U.S. only ~30 are banned?! Canada sits somewhere in the middle with ~600 banned/restricted ingredients.
This means that in North America we are on our own in protecting ourselves from these harmful products.
During my doctoral studies I was shocked to learn some scary information regarding environmental exposures and our health. I had no idea that everyday products, like shampoo, body wash, lotions, lipstick, etc., were likely impacting my hormones, periods, fertility, mood, metabolism, and increasing my risk of cancers (Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012).
Especially as a woman with PCOS, my endocrine and reproductive systems are already in overdrive just to function. Then I was throwing in endocrine-disrupting chemicals which wreak hormonal havoc (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2011).
I actually feel angry thinking about the widespread use of these chemical-laden products, without any public education, discourse, or even warning labels.
What Can We Do?
Fortunately, this article isn’t all doom and gloom!
First, we can educate ourselves on the ingredients in our current products. To see which potentially harmful products are on your shelf, I encourage you to check your products’ safety at Environmental Working Group.org. A quick search of most products in the database will pull up its safety rating, why it’s received that rating, and how it may be impacting your health. If you can’t find a product, email me and I will find out the details for you!
Next, we can invest in safer products from brands working to change the industry. I discovered Beautycounter, the leader in clean, a year ago (and my skin sure wishes I had sooner!). Their products are rigorously tested for safety (and don’t compromise quality either). They exclude over 1800 ingredients that have been shown to be harmful to humans or that we just don’t have enough scientific data yet to be sure.
They’re also active in ensuring new regulations are passed to protect consumers so one day every product on the shelf is a safe, “clean” product (as it should be!). I don’t believe it is enough for brands to just make safer products. We need systemic change to protect the most vulnerable populations who experience even higher levels of exposure, like women of color. This is why advocacy is paramount. If you want to use your voice just text BETTERBEAUTY to 52886 (USA) or 70734 (Canada) to urge policymakers to make safer personal care regulations.
As a result of falling in love with this brand’s mission, I became a Beautycounter consultant in April 2020. This means I help educate the public with evidence-based science and urge governments to increase beauty industry regulations. I also receive 20% off all products (what a steal!) and receive a commission when you use my links to purchase Beautycounter products.
If you have any questions about choosing safer products or would like to chat about Beautycounter, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Dylan Cutler, PhD