05 July 2006

the skin you're in

If you're on the green beat, you may have come across the Skin Deep report by the Environmental Working Group.

This report acts as a response to the fact that the FDA does not require companies to do safety testing on cosmetic products before marketing. (Don't let me lose you here, boys; cosmetic products include toothpaste, deodorant, etc, etc.) And "while some companies make products that are safe to eat, other companies choose to use known human carcinogens or developmental toxins like coal tar and lead acetate."

"To learn about the safety of ingredients in personal care products, [EWG] compiled an electronic database of ingredient labels for 14,100 name-brand products and cross-linked it with 37 toxicity or regulatory databases."

Here's three overall findings that are reason for concern:
• More than one-third of all personal care products contains at least one ingredient linked to cancer.

• 57 percent of all products contain "penetration enhancer" chemicals that can drive other ingredients faster and deeper into the skin to the blood vessels below.

• 79 percent of all products contain ingredients that may contain harmful impurities like known human carcinogens, according to FDA or industry reviews. Impurities are legal and unrestricted for the personal care product industry.

What stands out about this report is the database, where you can see how different products rate on the EWG's scale. The results can be surprising; for instance, Ban deodorant rates favorably higher than Tom's of Maine. (I think deodorant is a subplot of this blog; stay tuned for more antiperspirant drama...)

*For the ladies—or make-up inclined mens—if you're looking for less chemically make-up, I recommend Alima cosmetics. Made of minerals, the products are free of bismuth oxychloride, phthalates, parabens, talc, preservatives, dyes, carmine, salicylates and fragrances. I think the bronzers and blushes work well. *

(The image comes from the Stella Marrs catalog.)

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