from Environmental Working Group
MYTH: Products made for children or bearing claims like “hypoallergenic” are safer choices. FACT: Most cosmetic marketing claims are unregulated. Companies rarely if ever are required to back them up, even for children’s products.
Claims of “hypoallergenic” or “natural” can mean anything or nothing at all. Dermatologists say that most terms have market value in promoting products to consumers but have little medical meaning.
An investigation of more than 1700 children’s body care products found that 81 % of those marked “gentle” or “hypoallergenic” contained allergens or skin and eye irritants.
MYTH: Natural and organic products are always safer. FACT: Personal care products labeled natural or organic often contain synthetic chemicals. Research shows that 35% of children’s products marketed as “natural” contain artificial preservatives.
Even genuinely natural or organic ingredients are not necessarily without risk. The global, plant-based pharmaceutical market, valued at $19,500,000,000 in 2008, relies on the ability of “natural” chemicals used in some natural cosmetics to significantly alter body functions—hardly an innocuous process.
Products labeled “organic” or “natural” may contain petrochemicals and be without any certified organic or natural ingredients whatsoever.
Products certified as organic can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients by weight or volume. The FDA fought to establish an official definition for “natural,” but the courts overturned the protection.
MYTH: The FDA would promptly recall any product shown to injure people. FACT: The FDA doesn’t have the authority to require recalls of harmful products or to require that manufacturers report cosmetics-related injuries to the agency.
MYTH: Consumers can read ingredient labels and avoid products with hazardous chemicals. FACT: Federal law protects manufacturers from having to list many chemicals, including nanomaterials, ingredients considered trade secrets, and components of fragrance.
Fragrance may include any of 3, 163 different chemicals, none of which are required to be listed on labels. Fragrance tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage.
MYTH: Cosmetics safety is a concern for women only. FACT: On average, women daily use 12 products containing 168 ingredients. Men daily use 6 products with 85 ingredients. Children are exposed to an average of 61 ingredients daily.
The industry-funded CIR safety panel incorrectly assumes that consumers are exposed to just one chemical at a time and that personal care products are the only source of exposure.
Because federal law permits companies to omit labeling of many chemical ingredients, you may want to check the safety of the cosmetics you use on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database of 69,000 cosmetics at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/