Until the FDA takes such positive actions, it will be up to consumer to protect themselves. Here’s Seventh Generation's list of tips:
• Go easy on these products in the first place. Makeup is unnecessary as are the vast lion’s share of health and beauty items. Other more essential products can be used sparingly.
• Don’t let kids or adolescents use nonessential products. This includes makeup, nail products, hair styling products, perfumes, and skin creams. For maximum safety, apply this standard to yourself, too!
• Scrutinize labels carefully, and take a precautionary approach to ingredients. Avoid products that list hard-to-pronounce chemicals or are obviously made largely of synthetics. These materials may be safe, but unless you know for sure skip the purchase. Look for products that contain natural ingredients only or contain a bare minimum of synthetic materials.
• In general, when it comes the ingredients in cosmetic and personal care ingredients, less is more. Choosing products with the fewest possible components is a good precautionary strategy.
• The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has asked cosmetic companies to sign an agreement not to use chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems. So far over 500 companies have signed the pact. You can find the complete list at http://www.safecosmetics.org/companies/signers.cfm
. Use this resource to guide you to responsible manufacturers.
• Avoid any product that contains placental extracts or makes any mention of placenta or placenta-sourced ingredients either in its name or on its ingredients panel. Such ingredients are a source of the human hormone estrogen, which can be absorbed by the body and trigger unhealthy hormonal effects.
• Skip products that contain phthalates. Be on the lookout for ingredients like n-butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), diethyl phthalate, dimethyl phthalate, or dibutyl phthalate. Avoid products that contain phthalic acid, phthalic anhydride, phthalic glycols, or any ingredient that starts with or contains the letter combination “phth.”
• Same with parabens. Look out for methylparaben, butylparaben, and/or propylparaben. Parahydroxybenzoate is also chemical code for parabens. These chemicals mimic hormones in the bloodstream.
• Avoid synthetic fragrances and products that contain them. Under the guise of protecting trade secrets, a loophole in federal regulations allows manufacturers to use unhealthy chemicals like phthalates and musks in product scents and to hide this use behind generic fragrance mentions on product labels. Don’t buy any product that simply lists “fragrance,” “scent,” or “perfume” as an ingredient. Instead, look for fragrance-free products, naturally scented products, or those that list the source of their fragrances, preferably essential oils and/or other safe sources. For more information about fragrances see http://www.ewg.org/issues/cosmetics/valentine/index.php
• Stay away from synthetic dyes and coloring agents, especially hair dyes and colorants. Many of these contain ingredients suspected of being carcinogenic. Natural alternatives like henna and chamomile are safe.
• Don’t buy products that list proprietary or trademarked ingredients. Such ingredients can hide their chemical components behind trade laws and deceptive ingredient listings. Don’t trust them.
• The EWG offers a wallet-sized tip card with reminders and suggestions you can use when you shop. To download a free copy see http://www.ewg.org:16080/pdf/EWG_cosmetics.pdf
. The Breast Cancer Fund has a similar card at http://www.breastcancerfund.org/atf/cf/%7BDE68F7B2-5F6A-4B57-9794-AFE5D27A3CFF%7D/safety%20card.pdf
• Learn more. Knowledge is power, and since cosmetic and personal care items are the consumer chemical products we most commonly encounter in the course of daily life, it’s vital that each of us know as much about them as we can. The following web sites are excellent sources of this crucial information:http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/http://safecosmetics.org/http://www.ewg.org/issues/siteindex/issues.php?issueid=5005http://www.nottoopretty.org/
To learn more about the EWG study visit http://www.ewg.org/node/22639