Here’s the thing. We are all trying to lead a healthy life. We spend countless hours in the gym, we Soul Cycle on the weekends, we yoga into the night. Some of us love it so much, we go to college for it. We eat organic, try to get enough sleep, and we fight our urge to eat that ever so delicious piece of chocolaty goodness. We are all trying to lead a healthy life. But what are we missing here? We seem to have checked all the boxes under ‘Getting Healthy 101’ haven't we? Being healthy isn’t just about what we put ‘IN’ our bodies, but also what we put ‘ON’ our bodies. Our skin is the bodies largest organ. We sloth lotions and oils on it. We scrub and suds with a melody of fresh smelling shampoos and conditioners. We cover it with colorful makeup. We do this day in and day out without ever really thinking about it. Well, why would you? We are made to believe that our food and personal care products are safe. Isn’t that what the FDA is for? Why would a company like Herbal Essences, Jergens, or Revlon make something that could potentially harm us? I admit, I’m guilty of it myself. I never once turned a bottle around and read the ingredients. If I did have the time to read the ingredients, I either couldn’t pronounce the words or I had no clue what the hell any of them were. Oh that bottle of shampoo smells like a rain forest and it’s $3.99, great! In the cart it goes!
Our food system is one conversation, but our personal care products are another and it’s a conversation that more people should be having. The ingredients found in personal care products cause a host of dangerous and life threatening issues in the body. They have been linked and proven to cause cancer, disrupt and damage female and male endocrine systems, can chemically burn the skin and eyes, and the list goes on and on. To make matters worse, the government nor the FDA are doing much to ensure our health and safety when it comes to the ingredients used in our personal care products. With the exception of color additives and a few prohibited substances, cosmetics companies may use any ingredient or raw material in their products without government review or approval (FDA 2005). Whereas the European Union has banned more than 1,000 ingredients from use in cosmetics, the FDA has only prohibited a handful of ingredients (FDA 2000a). If that wasn’t bad enough, Federal law allows companies to leave some chemical ingredients off their product labels, including those considered to be trade secrets, components of fragrance and nanomaterials (FDA 2011). Tests of fragrance ingredients have found an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including ingredients linked to hormone disruption and sperm damage (EWG & CSC 2010). So don’t think for a second that the government or the companies that are making these products are looking out for your best interest. Be informed!
So to make it simple, I have summarized key ingredients to watch out for when looking at product labels. These ingredients can be found in anything from your shampoo and conditioner, laundry detergent, to your mascara.
All of this information can be overwhelming and take time to learn and digest. It's key to your personal health to be informed. If you would like to learn more about the personal care and cosmetic industry, head over to www.ewg.org. This website has so much great information to offer and it even has the ability for you to look up the products you are currently using and see where they land on the safety scale. They even have an app that you can download for when you are on the go and want to know the safety of a product. You can actually scan the barcode of a product right there in the store. Pretty nifty! Start making the shift to cleaner, healthier products. Your body will thank you!
- Founder and CEO of Iron Lily