By: Seble Alemu,a 3rd year Oriental Medicine Student, MA
*Educate yourself about ingredients. By educating yourself; you actually invest time in your health! And what is more precious than your health?
* Has it ever crossed your mind that those fancy brand cosmetic products may have loads of Hazardous chemicals that may affect your health; to name a few, cancer and hormone disruption)?
* Shocking but true: There are STRONG protective laws in the European Union for cosmetics than in the US.
*”The hazard-based, precautionary approach of the EU acknowledges that chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects simply don’t belong in cosmetics – regardless of the concentration of the chemical being used.” Says The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
*There are 175 nonprofit organizations in US working to protect the health of consumers and workers by eliminating dangerous chemicals from cosmetics?
* These organizations spend a lot of money coming from health conscious individuals for independent researches, and campaigning.
Among many success, recently, these organizations called The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, have won a battle against Revlon (Oh, ya your favorite product ?)on Dec ,2014 that the CEO agreed to remove carcinogen chemical from their product. Also, on August, Johnson & Johnson finally gives in agreeing to remove cancer-causing and hormone disrupting chemicals from its products.
Currently, The same organizations still jointly are working so hard campaigning against amny giant brand companies , which I assume you might know most of them i.e Avon, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Unilever to take the same action like the Revlon , and J & J.
Yet, it is still saddened me the years I spent tons money on the so-called brand products due to the lack information how they may have impact on my health in the long term.
Today, I would like to write about cosmetics products and what you should watch out for when you read the LABELs. Of course, after my eyes become quite wide open whenever I do shopping, I‘ve realized that how many of cosmetics and other product lines are trying to fool us by bolding only the ingredients label that have appealing to our eyes, meaning , If you ever noticed , you see on some products two ways of labeling:- Either
- Only those eye catchy ingredients are bolded and readable, while the rest you can hardly read them.
- Or they list in bold only the ingredients label on the front like “Cocoa butter” while the rest labels are stashed at the back of a product with hard to read.
Aren’t they smart? Yes, they are Very smart; SO? The key answer is we should be smarter being a wise consumer and letting this message out to everybody!!!
Just Obama said in his recent State of the Union speech about Global Warming “I am not a scientist, but the best scientists are all telling us …..” likewise I am not a chemist, a policy maker, or a scientist but a team of these experts are telling us, those products are carrying dozens of toxic chemicals that have an impact on our health. Thus, we should listen to them and act accordingly!!
Here is my principle: you may adapt them all or modify them as you may like ?
1. Your skin is the largest organ in the body; beautify yourself with products with zero chemical in them. Whether you are in Ethiopia, in US, or in your Europe, there are plenty of products with few and safe ingredients.
2. If you CAN’T eat the ingredients, don’t put them on your skin. As, your skin will absorb them anyways.
3. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy it.
Letting the readers to visit this valuable website (http://www.safecosmetics.org
) whenever you opt to do so, I have copied the basic information from their website as a start off.
What are some of the most harmful ingredients in products?
A. Mercury: found in some eye drops, ointment and deodorants. Lead acetate, found in some hair dyes and cleanser; formaldehyde and toluene, found in nail products; petrochemicals, found in some hair relaxers, shampoos, mascara, perfume, foundation, lipstick and lip balm; coal tar, found in dandruff shampoos, anti-itch creams and hair dyes; placenta, found in some hair relaxers, moisturizers and toners; and phthalates, found in some nail polish, fragrances and hair spray.
So I should buy products labeled “all-natural”?
A. Looking for the words “natural” or “safe” won’t guarantee that the product you buy really is safe. That’s why we’re asking all manufacturers to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and pledge not to use chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health harms and replace them with safer alternatives.
How do I know if a particular product is safe?
A: To find safety information on specific products, check out EWG’s Skin Deep, the online database of nearly 25,000 personal care products. You can search the database for specific brands or ingredients, or for product types, like nail polish, to see how brands within that product class compare. Skin Deep will also tell you if a company has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.
What are phthalates? Where are they found?
A. Phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) are plasticizing chemicals that are probable human reproductive or developmental toxins and endocrine disruptors. Phthalates cause reproductive birth defects in laboratory animals, particularly males.
Two phthalates often used in cosmetics (dibutyl and diethylhexyl) have been banned in the European Union. Unfortunately, phthalates are still found in some nail polishes and hair sprays, and are commonly hidden on ingredient labels under the term “fragrance.” We recommend that consumers steer clear of products with fragrance, especially pregnant women, babies and pubescent young adults.
I’ve been reading a lot about parabens and companies going “paraben-free.” What does that mean?
A. Parabens are a group of compounds widely used as anti-microbial preservatives in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics products, including underarm deodorants. Parabens are absorbed through intact skin and through the gastrointestinal tract and blood. U.K. researchers found measurable concentrations of six different parabens in 20 human breast tumors. The study highlights the need for more research on the potential link between products containing parabens and increased breast cancer risk.
Many companies, including Compact signers, have begun phasing out parabens from their lines by marking their products as “paraben-free.” Parabens are commonly listed on product ingredient labels as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben.
What about nail polish?
A. So many people have asked us about nail polish that we created a separate page for information about it. According to EWG’s Skin Deep database of cosmetic product safety, nail polish is among the highest-concern product categories in terms of serious health effects. This has to do in large part to the chemicals formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), all three of which make it into the top ingredients of concern in personal care products, and all three of which could be found in many brands of nail polish until very recently.
The U.S. National Toxicology Program says formaldehyde is “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restricts toluene in drinking water because it can cause nervous system disorders and damage the liver and kidneys. DBP is prohibited for use in cosmetics in the European Union because it is a possible human reproductive or developmental toxin. The data from several peer-reviewed scientific studies indicated that DBP is a probable endocrine disruptor, which means that it disrupts the natural balance of hormones in the body.
Finally, before concluding my message, I want to say a few words about packed foods and beverages.
As a future health practitioner, and health advocates my advices to YOU all is:
Avoid any processed, and packed foods and beverages esp those which are Genetically Modified foods (GMO), or carry synthetic sweeteners, trans fat, and watch out also sugar amount.
Eat authentic (organic) foods.
To do so,
*Cook your own foods.
*Read labels to see the safety the product you are buying, if you don’t have the option to cook at home.
I care about you, do you care about others? If so, please share to your contacts!