Consider this an INTRODUCTION for starting a clean swap process. It’s a REALLY big topic, and needs a little context. I will link some articles at the bottom of each post, if you are an information hog (hand raised), and want to continue your research. 🙂
To start off with, it is helpful to know that the United States is VERY FAR behind in its screening and regulations of personal care products. In fact, the last time we passed a comprehensive law governing this $62 billion dollar industry was 1938—81 years ago, people! 😱 Since then thousands of chemicals have been introduced into commerce each year with little, or no, safety data on human use.
If you are like me, I just always assumed that “some larger entity” was screening and regulating the ingredients in our personal care products (lotions, cosmetics, shampoos, baby skin care…), but unfortunately with the exception of a few prohibited substances, personal care companies may use any ingredient or raw material in their products without government review or approval (FDA 2005).
Here’s how we measure up:
• The European Union has banned or restricted over 1,400 ingredients.
• Health Canada has banned or restricted nearly 600 ingredients from personal care products.
• The United States has banned or partially restricted approximately 30 ingredients from personal care products.
👉If you think that number is missing a few extra zeros behind it, it’s time to start making your own personal bans on dangerous ingredients (OR, choose companies who are ethical and transparent and do the work for you).
I’ll share what I have learned in my research over the past few years since being diagnosed with an ovarian tumor and the rabbit hole (BUT THANK YOU, GOD!) it took me down. Once you know better, you do better, and I am so thankful for the information that has empowered me to be a more educated consumer!💪🏻🙌
- Arm yourself with information! Download the Environmental Working Group’s “Healthy Living” App (you can also find a full database on their website.
Let’s face it, deciphering labels isn’t easy–and chemicals come in many different forms and names. 🤷♀️ This database is so helpful when making decisions about which products to trade for safer items right away, or when deciding between buying one product or another. The Environmental Working Group (EWG’s) Healthy Living App allows you to scan the barcode, or search by the name of your product, and then gives a third-party nonprofit rating, based on the safety of the ingredients.
The Healthy Living App for your phone will give you the ratings and general info.🚦Think of the ratings like a traffic signal. 1-2’s are ideal (in the green, means “go forth” 💚), 2-6’s contain some questionable or harmful ingredients and should be limited use (in the yellow, proceed with caution ⚠️) and 7-10’s contain really yucky stuff and should be swapped out for safer products ASAP (in the red, STOP now 📛).The full web version of the Skin Deep Database let’s you read about each ingredient in more depth.
Bear in mind that companies have to willing to DISCLOSE ingredients to begin with for a fair rating, so you aren’t going to find every single brand or product (and I would caution you to rethink your support of a company who isn’t honest and forthcoming about what they put in their products, that you rub over your body each day)–but it is a growing database, and super user-friendly platform. You will find me in the aisles of Target scanning every new lotion or shampoo before I add it to my cart. ❤️
Additionally, some companies have earned the EWG stamp of approval for safety. Look for “EWG Verified” and you’ll know that this company has been vetted for transparency, and clean, safe ingredient manufacturing! Whoop, Whoop!
- Knock out the top offenders:
Are there certain ingredients you should ALWAYS try to avoid? Absolutely! Here are some of the worst ingredients in personal care products:
- Vote with your $! And, support companies that are working hard to source ethically, provide safe ingredients, and be fully transparent in their labels.
As you saw in the numbers given earlier, there is still a huge gap between the amount of chemicals other countries have found to have concerning effects and those the U.S. has yet to ban or restrict. There are many good companies starting to pop up, as the demand of consumers increases for healthy personal care products. But here is why I believe Beautycounter stands out as a top mover and shaker in this industry! (plus, the products–OMG. They ROCK).
“At Beautycounter, we’re working to fill that void and taking the necessary steps to protect consumers where possible, by setting our own health and safety standards. To that end, the first step of our Ingredient Selection Process is ban intentionally. We started by eliminating over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, and then added chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of concern. This means approximately 1,500 ingredients are already off the table before we even begin to formulate a product. (You can review the most common harmful ingredients used in the beauty industry in The Never List™).
While the U.S. government has taken action only 30 big-offender ingredients, we continue to go far beyond what is legally asked of us because, quite simply, it’s the right thing to do.”
P.S. If you would like a handy wallet-size reference sheet of “The Never List,” reach out to me. Happy to mail you a copy.
Reach out with any questions! xo