According to GoodGuide.com, a useful and trusted source of product safety ratings, the European Union “has banned the use of more than 1,000 substances in cosmetics; in contrast, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has only prohibited the use of eight substances in cosmetics.” The FDA itself states, on its own website, that “a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA.”
Why should you care? Your skin is like a sponge that absorbs these substances into your bloodstream. Researchers have found many common cosmetic ingredients in human tissue; and amazingly, very little research has been done on their risks. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “Personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, toxic to the reproductive system or known to disrupt the endocrine system.”
EWG surveyed consumers and found that we use an average of 9 skin care products daily. On average, these products contain a total of 126 unique ingredients, including known or suspected human carcinogens, as well as substances that are known to harm wildlife when we wash them down the drain and into waterways.
While much discussion revolves around cosmetics, which are mainly targeted at women, men have almost as much to worry about. Yes, guys, the chemicals in your toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, shave cream, hair gel, sunscreen, and lip balm, can be a major health concern. Good news: organic and natural skin care products for men are becoming more widely available. Unfortunately, at least for now, they aren’t cheap.
The easiest way to learn what’s available is through a multi-brand online retailer of organic and natural skin care products, like Revescent, EcoDiva Beauty or Integrity Botanicals. Revescent, for instance, carries only products that receive the safest scores by the Environmental Working Group, and they offer inexpensive trial sizes. Simple enough?
Here are some other ways to simplify the task of finding personally and environmentally safe skin care products:
- Download one or more of the shopping apps reviewed on GreenerDailyLife.com, take them with you to the store (on your smartphone), and scan product barcodes for instant rating information.
- Check the ratings of specific products on EWG’s Skin Deep database or on GoodGuide.com.
- Look for products with the EWG Verified logo (unfortunately, this program is new and verified products are still few and far between).
- Search Amazon for specific kinds of organic products. That’s how I found Dr. Bronner’s organic soap and, a particularly tough product to find, organic shave gel.
My shave gel isn’t rated by EWG, but GoodGuide gives it a pretty fair rating. At $10.95 a tube, it’s at least twice the price of supermarket brands, but still significantly less than upscale organic brands. On a cost per shave basis, I can live with it.
Worth the time, cost, and effort? I think so. I’m taking better care of myself, withdrawing my support of chemical manufacturers who are not good for our environment, and moving the economy in a positive direction. In other words, the change I’ve made is part of building a clean economy of consumer products that are both personally and environmentally safe. As more of us switch to responsible brands, we’ll be rewarding the entrepreneurs who make them and sending an important economic signal to the big brands.
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