‘Organic’ is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in everything from food to household cleaning products, cosmetics and even clothing. Now, the mantra ‘Outside and Inside’ is being coined as the catchphrase of all things organic. “Outside and Inside” refers to the belief that you should never expose the outside of your body to things you wouldn’t first put inside of your body. Specifically, this theory relates to organic makeup and skincare.
A little known fact about the vast world of organic makeup and skincare is that it is almost entirely unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) doesn’t authorize FDA to approve cosmetic ingredients, with the exception of color additives and ingredients classified as over-the-counter drugs. That means that, in general, cosmetic companies can lace their products with as many different impossible-to-pronounce chemicals and additives as they please, so long as the list of ingredients doesn’t include any of the few that are actually regulated by the FDA or anything that knowingly inflicts harm to humans. The law doesn’t even require companies to report bad reactions and side effects of their product.
The FDA encourages cosmetics companies to register their products under the Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program, however, as the name implies, participation is not legally required.
The Organic Fair Trade reports that the average woman applies more than 200 chemicals to her skin through the use of skin care products in one day and that 60% of these chemicals are further absorbed into your bloodstream.
So, we’ve compiled a list of the most harmful chemicals and additives found in cosmetics and skin care so that the next time you pick up that over-priced concealer you’ll think to yourself, “Outside and Inside”. Many makeup and skincare brands have clever packaging that will lead you to believe in their good-for-you marketing scheme. Be sure to read labels!
PARABENS – (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzyl paraben.) Parabens, in layman terms, are preservatives. Parabens are combined with other kinds of preservatives in skincare and organic makeup to provide preservation against different microorganisms. The problem with parabens is that they appear to mimic the activity of estrogen in the body and can lead to decreased sperm counts in men and even breast cancer in women. Studies have shown that parabens were found in the breast tissue of 40 women who’d undergone mastectomies.
SYNTHETIC COLORS AND DYES – (FD&C, D&C, Benzidine) Synthetic colors and dyes found in cosmetics and skincare, although moderately regulated by the FDA, have been known to cause superficial problems such as skin irritation and hyper-pigmentation and also internal damage to reproductive organs, increased levels of neurotoxicity and risk of cancer. The acronyms FD&C (Food, Drug and Cosmetic) and D&C are always followed by a color and number on ingredient labels. One study found that in commercially available FD&C Yellow #5 and #6, benzidine (which causes cancer) has been found in amounts up to 200 times the officially allowed level of only 1 part per billion.
SODIUM LAURYL/LAURETH SULFATE – (SLS, SLES) This synthetic substance is used in shampoos and facial cleansers for its detergent and foam building abilities. It causes eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions. SLS and SLES are highly irritable to skin and hair. SLS/SLES can also interact with other chemicals and form nitrosamines, a carcinogen.
PETROCHEMICALS – (Petrolatum, Mineral Oil) This large class of chemicals derived from fossil fuels includes gasoline, coal, tar, and petrolatum (a.k.a. petroleum jelly). Petrolatum is a form of mineral oil and can contain trace amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — probable carcinogens. Despite being found in many lip balms and products containing sunscreen, when used on the skin, petrochemicals can cause photosensitivity. Mineral oils can also block pores and prevent the skin from eliminating toxins from the body through sweat and oil glands which can lead to acne and uneven skin tone.
SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES – (Phthalates, galactoside or tonalite) Since cosmetic and skincare companies are not required to detail the ingredients of their ‘secret fragrance formulas’, there could be several chemicals hidden within your makeup, face washes and moisturizers, deodorants and body lotions that you don’t even know about. Phthalates, galactoside and tonalite are three chemicals often found in the fragrance that are believed to be endocrine disruptors and could increase the risk of breast cancer and birth defects. When possible, choose fragrance-free skin products.
Now, a few of my Organic Makeup brand favorites:
Juice Beauty Gwyneth is now the creative director of organic makeup for Juice Beauty and a shareholder in the sustainable company. Kate Hudson is a fan as well. Kora Organics Created by supermodel Miranda Kerr
La Mav 100% Plant-Derived Make-Up and Skincare Salt StoreAll Natural SkincareTruself OrganicsAll Natural Skincare
Visit Fair Trade USA’s website for a list of their organic cosmetics and skin care partners.
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