What Toxins are Lurking in Your Cosmetics?

Selecting the right shampoo, soap, cosmetics or sunscreen is an uphill battle these days.  Knowing that the labeling might be misleading, the ingredients might be toxic and the FDA can do nothing legally about false claims and dangerous ingredients is enough to give anyone pause before they wash their hair every morning. Since greasy hair is not my thing I find myself standing in the aisles reading labels until my head is spinning. Half of the time I walk away without getting what I need and the other half of the time I buy something that I’m not confident is safe for me or my family.

There’s Hope!
But that may change. On Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Reps. Jan Schakowsky from Illinois (D) and Edward Markey from Massachusetts (D) introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 (H.R.5786). Legislation like this is a long time coming. Studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group have shown that hazardous and untested ingredients can be found in most personal care products. And under current law, the FDA doesn’t assess the safety of personal care products or their ingredients.

What Will the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 Do?
The proposed bill introduced yesterday will give the FDA authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients. Specifically this legislation calls for:

  • phasing out ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm
  • creating a safety standard that protects children, the elderly, workers exposed to these products on a daily basis and other vulnerable populations
  • full ingredient disclosure on product labels and company webs sites
  • data-sharing to avoid duplicate testing and encourage the development of alternatives to animal testing

Learn More
In “The Story of Cosmetics” (part of the The Story of Stuff Project) Annie Leonard wows us again with her entertaining, down to earth and easy to understand style.  This time she’s giving us the scoop on personal care products.  Check it out:

What You Can Do
To find safer cosmetics check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. You’ll find information, product reports and safety ratings for personal care products including makeup, skin care, hair care, baby products, sunscreen, toothpaste and more. I’ve used this database for years to find the safest products – I highly recommend that you check it out.

Ask your elected officials to support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. They need to know that this is important to all of us! Find your elected officials here.

What personal care products do you recommend? Please tell us in the Comments.

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