Poor regulation, self regulation and confusing contrary scientific data has resulted in a lot of chemicals making there way into our personal care and household products, often people using these products are unaware of what the chemicals in these products are doing to their bodies.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and health has found that 884 chemicals available for use in cosmetics have been reported to the US government as toxic substances. So why are these chemicals allowed into our personal products if they are to be toxic? Well, the same reason why tobacco industries promote tobacco whilst knowing the devastating effect it has on the masses, PROFITS. Sadly, they put forward profit ahead of health.
In 1938 the US Government created a legal definition for cosmetics by passing The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Cosmetics were defined as products for
...cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance
In this definition, a cosmetic is defined In terms of its intended purpose rather than in terms of the ingredients with which is formulated.
So, a cosmetic manufacturer may use any ingredient or raw material and market the final products without government approval.
On 10th September 1997, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, while discussing an FDA reform bill, stated,
The cosmetic industry, has borrowed a page from the play book of the tobacco industry, by putting profits ahead of public health.
Kennedy further stated,
Cosmetics can be dangerous to your health. Yet this greedy industry wants Congress to prevent the American people from learning that truth. Every woman who uses face cream, or hair spray, or lipstick, or shampoo, or mascara, or powder should demand that this arrogant and irresponsible power play by the industry be rejected. A study by the respected, non-partisan General Accounting Office reported that more than 125 ingredients available for use in cosmetics are suspected of causing cancer..."
Shocking news indeed. Here are some of the ingredients that top the list of potentially harmful compounds that are present in products we use every day:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphite (SLS)
- Propylene Glycol
- Diethanolamine (DEA)
- Cocamide DEA
- Lauramide DEA
- Fluorides (Sodium fluoride and Hexafluorosilicic Acid)
- Alpha Hydroxy acid (AHA)
- Elastin of High-Molecular Weight
- Mineral Oil
(Read the article 'Harmful Ingredients In Your personal care Products' for a detailed discussion on each of the above mentioned ingredients)