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The Cardiologist's Wife - Toxins in Cosmetics and Beauty Products
Oct 25, 2017

There is a lot of confusing and contradictory information out there about toxins in cosmetics and beauty products. You might have heard about the law suit involving talcum powder and the woman with ovarian cancer. While jurors ruled in favor of the plaintiff, scientific experts say the evidence linking talcum powder with cancer is inconclusive. The truth is that we unknowingly come in contact with toxic substances every day: perhaps in our drinking water, the plastics we use or the paint on our walls. For some of us, these toxic substances will cause health problems whether it’s cancer or just an allergic reaction. We may never even realize that a specific health problem had its beginning with a toxic substance we regularly came into contact with. Many experts believe we are better off limiting our exposure to toxins whenever we can and that certainly makes sense.

Personally, I was surprised to learn that neither the FDA nor any other law requires cosmetic products to have FDA approval, or similar safety guarantee, other than for color additives, before it goes on the market. The legal responsibility for ensuring the safety of cosmetic products, including skin and hair products, lies with the company or individual making the product. The FDA has banned only 11 ingredients previously used in cosmetics as unsafe while the European Union has banned over 1000. I find it interesting that Europe takes far fewer chances with the health of their citizens than North America does. Since most companies are more vested in making money than in your health, I find the lack of accountability or legislative regulation unsettling.

Some of the toxins used in cosmetics or skin care products are know to cause cancer, skin irritations, alter DNA or disrupt the function of your endocrine system which regulates sleep, sexual function, reproduction and metabolism. But manufacturers argue that the amount found in makeup, lotions and hair care products is far too little to do any harm. Who to believe?

If you are concerned about toxins in the products you use on your body (the average woman uses 16 beauty products every day) you should make an effort to educate yourself further in order to make an informed decision about what products you will or won’t use. A quick google search for toxins in beauty products will yield tons of information. A list of questionable ingredients includes but is not limited to: fragrances, (who knew it might be harmful to smell good?), formaldehyde, alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate, paraben, phthalate and propylene. These are commonly used ingredients in most makeups, skin and hair care products. Remember, skin is your largest organ and anything applied on your skin is absorbed into your body.

There are brands that don’t use suspect ingredients but they may be hard to find in our area or more costly. The personal care section at natural grocery stores like Truck Patch will have a decent selection of products. Ulta Beauty also carries some toxic free brands; a sales associate will be glad to help you find what you need. A last thought; if these ingredients cause problems for adults, what are they doing to our children, whose bodies are smaller and more vulnerable to toxic overload?

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