Buy Chemical-Free Products
So it’s Day 2 of the A to Z blogging challenge and that means the letter B. Why do we need to buy chemical-free products? Because we deserve healthy bodies and healthy lives and adding a bunch of heavy metals and pesticides to our daily diets doesn’t do anyone much good. Need convincing? Read on:
Blame it on Cleopatra
Four thousand years ago, ancient Egyptian men and women painted their eyes using malachite, a copper ore with a rich green color, that made the most delicious shade of eyeshadow. They used galena, a blue-grey mineral form of lead sulfide mixed with soot to form Kohl, a black eye-liner. They washed, dried, crushed and sometimes burned red ochre, a pigment found in clay, a result of hydrated iron oxide, to create rouge, and they made henna, a dye created from the henna shrub’s leaves and shoots, to color their hair and nails.
Given the choice, most people would not ingest lead, copper, and other hazardous substances as part of their daily beauty regime. Chemicals such as lead acetate (lead sugar), chromium, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) used in modern lipstick production all contain trace amounts of naturally occurring metals which means that your lipstick may come with a side of metal not found on the ingredients list.
There are chemicals to consider as well. Lipstick contains pigments from color additives such as D&C Red 7 Calcium Lake which is formulated by reacting the dye with salts and precipitants such as calcium or sodium to give the lipstick stability. You want pink? Mix in some titanium dioxide, shown to be a carcinogen in laboratory rats when in dust form. Matte finishes use silica which can can lead to lung and autoimmune diseases if fine crystals are inhaled.
What’s the big deal, you ask, if it’s such a little bit? Well, if a woman ingests an average of four pounds of lipstick over the course of her lifetime, those trace amounts can add up to more significant quantities per item, and since most women use approximately 12 beauty products a day (teenaged girls use about 14 and men about 6), we are no longer talking about trace amounts. After a lifetime of ingesting, absorbing and inhaling all these harmful metals and chemicals, we have become walking pharmaceutical labs.
As consumers we still lack adequate protections. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was first signed into law in 1938 after over a hundred patients died from using sulfanilamide, an antibacterial containing diethylene glycol, a sweet, and poisonous, solvent. Congress needed to act to address the crisis so they gave the job to the FDA, but in actuality, the FDA doesn’t have authority to recall a product unless it’s been misbranded or adulterated. At best, this results in self-policing by the cosmetics industry, but keep in mind that a law without enforcement authority doesn’t scare anyone. Further, as the watchdog for cosmetic safety, the FDA has only banned eleven out of over 12,000 products since 1938. By contrast, the European Union has banned over 1,320.
Perhaps the most distressing news is that cosmetic products do not undergo a rigorous scientific review before they are rolled out to the public.
In general, chemicals are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when used as a pesticide, preservative, fungicide, or biocide in plastics, fabrics, flooring and other products, and by the FDA when used as a food or drug additive. Registration of a product requires a manufacturer to review that product for efficacy so EPA can review the information and determine whether the manufacturer’s claims are true, but EPA doesn’t regulate foods or drugs, the FDA does, so when a chemical is used in products like deodorants or hand soaps, or added to processed foods, and not added to the product itself for the sake of protecting and preserving that product as it is in flooring, bedding, utensils, and the like, it is no longer considered a pesticide. The FDA regulations don’t require registration and efficacy studies the way EPA regulations do. Only after a product is on the market and proven unsafe will the FDA ask for a voluntary recall. So I ask you, why do harmful compounds require registration when incorporated into inert products, but when used in our cosmetics and toothpastes no registration is required? Or to put it another way, why do products need more safeguarding than people?
The global sale of cosmetics tipped the scales at $532 billion in 2017 with sales projected to increase well into the next decade. With such a lucrative market at stake, manufacturers should want to invest in healthful products that will assure their clientele stay alive long enough to keep purchasing them. If Cleopatra had the benefit of the science behind her beauty regime, she may have gone a little easier on the eye-liner. The good news is, in 2017, the global organic personal care market reached 12.19 billion and is projected to keep growing.
Ladies, you have the power of the purse. You owe it to yourselves and future generations to use it by purchasing products committed to consumer safety. Let’s get the lead out.
Link to drama free cosmetics: www.ewg.org/skindeep