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Does Your Makeup Contain Toxic Chemicals?

We are naturally concerned about the food we consume, but do we take as much care with the products that we load onto our skin?

Chemicals can irritate skin, and can also be absorbed through the skin into circulation. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) outlines numerous safety myths we assume with respect to cosmetics:

Myths on cosmetics safety

Myth – If it’s for sale at a supermarket, drugstore or department store cosmetics counter, it must be safe.

Fact –  The Food and Drug Administration has no authority to require companies to test cosmetics products for safety. The agency does not review or approve the vast majority of products or ingredients before they go on the market. FDA conducts pre-market reviews only of certain cosmetics color additives and active ingredients that are classified as over-the-counter drugs (FDA 2005, 2010).

Myth – The government prohibits the use of all dangerous chemicals in personal care products, and companies wouldn’t risk using them.

Fact – 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 the following (FDA 2000a):

  • Bithionol
  • Chlorofluorocarbon propellants
  • Chloroform
  • Halogenated salicylanilides (di-, tri-, metabromsalan and tetrachlorosalicylanilide)
  • Methylene chloride
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Zirconium-containing complexes
  • Prohibited cattle materials (including material from non-ambulatory cattle, material from cattle not inspected and passed and mechanically separated beef)...

Read the rest of cosmetic myths here: Myths on cosmetics safety

EWG has compiled a huge database containing more that 74,000 products and has rated their safety on a scale from 1 – 10

EWG’s Skindeep database: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

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