The Personal Care Products Safety Act – Why You Should Care
When you got out of bed this morning, what were the first few things on your to-do list? If you’re like most people, they involved acts of self-care. You might have poured a glass of water to quench your morning thirst, you probably ate breakfast, took a shower or at least cleansed your face. There’s also a good chance that you’ll use multiple skin care products or cosmetics before you settle into your routine for the rest of the day.
When you’re drinking your water, eating your breakfast and taking care of your skin, you probably aren’t thinking about the damage these things could be causing. This is because you have a certain level of trust in the people and companies that bring you the products that you use every day. The problem we’re facing today is that trust isn’t always well deserved, and now’s the time for us to do something about it.
We’ve all seen them before: The lists of toxic ingredients that you should avoid when choosing your skin care products. These lists include additives like parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde and toluene. It’s important to approach your skin care and cosmetic purchases armed with the information to make the best choices for your health, but it’s difficult to not ask some very important questions.
Why, as the consumer, are you put in the position of sorting through ingredient lists filled with toxic add-ins? If they’re toxic, why are they allowed in your products and why isn’t someone protecting you, and the ones you love, from the potentially damaging side effects of these ingredients? At OZNaturals, we’ve been asking these questions for a long time, and we’ve made a commitment use only natural, gentle and non-toxic ingredients in our products. That is our choice, and it is a strictly voluntary one. Unfortunately, most of the skincare and cosmetics industry does not make the same choice. There is also a notable lack of transparency about what goes into the products that millions of Americans use every day. That’s why we’re so excited to get behind some very exciting current legislation. We want you to know more so that you too can offer your support to the cause.
The Personal Care Products Safety Act
A proposed bipartisan bill, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), called the Personal Care Products Safety Act would require companies to ensure that their products were safe before marketing them to consumers. The bill is also aimed at providing the FDA with the tools to protect the public. For companies in the United States, this legislation is long overdue.
Our federal laws designed to protect you by making sure that your skin care products and cosmetics are safe have remained relatively unchanged since 1938. That’s right. The laws designed to protect you are outdated by about 80 years. Furthermore, we fall significantly behind other developed countries in terms of the number of potentially harmful ingredients that we’re willing to ban in manufacturing. For example, Canada has a banned or restricted list of 800, while the EU regulates 1,500 ingredients. That’s great! Where do we fall on the list? In the United States, we ban or restrict only 11 ingredients, a mere fraction of other countries.
The Personal Care Products Safety Act would be the first step in changing this number. According to ewg.org, this legislation would commit the FDA to doing a safety review of five personal care ingredients each year. The initial reviews would include ingredients that are of the highest concern, such as formaldehydes and parabens.
In addition, the act would also provide the FDA with the tools to protect your skin care products in the same way that they are empowered to protect your food sources. Here are some key points of the legislation according to the website.
- Companies would be required to register facilities.
- Companies would be required to disclose ingredients they use to FDA.
- Manufacturers would be required to ensure that products are made in a clean environment.
- FDA could inspect factories and records.
- Companies would be required to report serious adverse events to FDA within 15 days.
- FDA could require recalls of dangerous products.
- FDA could require specific labeling and warnings for products that contain ingredients not suitable for all populations.
It’s shocking to realize that these simple, common-sense requirements are not already in place, but that is the reality. Nevertheless, we think this is a great start. Now, let’s talk for a few minutes about why this legislation is so important.
The Hidden Dangers in Skin Care Products
We tend to forget that our skin is an organ. What we put on it can be absorbed into our bodies. Those ingredients that make your lotion glide a little easier, or your shampoo a bit sudsier, react in a completely different way in the body.
In all fairness, some allegedly toxic ingredients may be added to skin care products in amounts that are low enough to be considered generally safe. The problem is that there just hasn’t been enough research to determine what a safe level really is, and the possible effects of long term exposure, especially in products for infants and children who have delicate systems that are still developing.
While one or two applications might not have any effect, we need to be looking more at the possible effects of using your favorite moisturizer for years on a daily basis. This has not been done.
Formaldehyde may be the most egregious example of a clearly toxic ingredient in personal care products.
The use of formaldehyde isn’t regulated in personal care products, except for in nail hardeners where the level can’t exceed 5 percent. The most noted side effects of formaldehyde are skin irritation, along with irritation to mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose and throat. Salon workers who performed services, such as Brazilian blow outs that require extended exposure to formaldehyde products, reported side effects such as nose bleeds and sore throats.
Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen. So, we need to begin asking ourselves when the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks of toxic ingredients. If we’re honest, the answer is very rarely.
In addition to Formaldehyde, here are few other “dirty” ingredients to keep an eye out for in your personal care products.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Propylene glycol
What You Can Do Right Now to Protect Your Health
Just because our regulations on personal care products are a behind the times doesn’t mean that you are powerless. In fact, now is the time to show just how powerful you are. Here are few things that you can be doing today, to protect yourself and the ones you care about, for a healthier tomorrow.
- Make a commitment to purchasing from skin care and cosmetic companies that value your health by limiting, or eliminating entirely, potentially toxic ingredients. If the demand is clear, the industry will eventually respond with more options for cleaner products.
- Become familiar with which skincare products are considered to be the most dangerous. Learn how and why they’re used, along with the potential side effects. Read labels. Do your own research and learn all that you can.
- Take care of your body from the inside out. Proper hydration and nutrition can go a long way in keeping you healthy and looking your best. When your skin is radiant and glowing from smart lifestyle choices, you might even find that you don’t even need as many personal care products as you thought you did.
- Be a savvy consumer. Before you buy from a company, find out what their policies and practices are. Make sure complete ingredient lists are available for any product you are interested in. If you don’t like what you see, let them know. If they are on social media, that can be a great place to make your questions about their practices known, while bringing them to light for other people.
- Learn more about the Personal Care Products Safety Act. You can read more about the legislation here.
Finally, speak up. Make calls, email or write your senators to let them know that you support the Personal Care Products Safety Act, and why. There’s strength in numbers, and together we can build a more beautiful world that’s safer for everyone.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals