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“Anybody can put anything in a bottle and call it natural. And they do.” – Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace
Your skin is like a sponge, it absorbs about 60% of EVERYTHING you put on it. So while we talk a lot about what goes in your body, it’s just as important to think about what you put on your body. It’s hard to control everything we come in contact with, but there are things we do have control over – .like what we put on our skin.
Ironically, many of the products we use to keep our skin healthy are actually doing more harm than good. We all use shampoo, toothpaste, face cleanser, body soap, and lotion, often multiple times a day, but often these products made conventionally are laden with toxic ingredients.
Let’s dive deeper.
Head into your bathroom and take a look at your conventional body care products. You’ll likely find a list of unpronounceable and untested synthetic ingredients, colors, and fragrances like Diethyl Phthalate, Triclosan, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine and thousands more. Many of these ingredients came from the WWII chemical revolution. Sodium lauryl sulfate, for example, is an industrial cleanser and “foaming agent” that’s also common in engine degreasers. It has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and is a known hormone disruptor. That’s all for a little extra foam in the shower!
According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of the Breast Cancer Fund, women use an average of 12 personal care products a day, while men use an average of 6. With this regular product use, it means both men and women are exposed to hundreds of potentially toxic chemical ingredients daily.
So, with all of these products on the market, you might ask, who is at the front lines, ensuring products like shampoo, soap, and deodorant, are actually safe for our bodies?
In the United States, the answer may be surprising: no governing body conducts pre-market safety testing or reviews the ingredients companies are using. Nope, not even the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). In fact, no federal laws governing the cosmetics industry have been passed since 1938! In contrast, in Europe almost 1,400 harmful chemicals have been banned from cosmetic and personal care products through their governing bodies. In contrast, in the U.S., only 11 of these toxic ingredients are banned.
Even when we buy safer alternatives, we still have to be conscious and informed consumers. The claims on product labels don’t always match up with what’s inside the product. Without governing oversight, words like natural, herbal, pure, and organic (unless it has a USDA Certified Organic seal) can be meaningless when they are placed on a product that contains toxic ingredients. This is called, greenwashing. Greenwashing is when a company markets their products as natural and ethical, but a quick glance at their ingredients and business practices tell an entirely different story.
The good news is that awesome ethical brands are out there, like today’s partner Acure Organics. Companies like Acure are formulating affordable, healthy products that are good for you and the planet. Acure products are 100% vegan, don’t use animal testing, are free of chemicals like parabens and sulfates and are available at at stores like Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, select CVS stores, natural grocers, and online. Today’s non-profit partner, MadeSafe, is working to “ensure that goods are made entirely from safe ingredients;ingredients that are not known or suspected to cause harm to human health as determined by scientifically recognized lists from around the world..
When greening your body care routine, take a minute to read the labels, understand what’s going on your skin, and once you do … research what might be a healthier option.
When you buy personal care products, what are you looking for? Probably a way to look and feel your best, but how often have you flipped the package around and looked at the ingredient list? And even then, do you know what the ingredients mean? Let’s take a look –
Turns out the average American bathroom is a minefield of toxic chemicals. Sunscreens, lipstick, moisturizer, shaving cream — many cosmetics contain chemicals linked to cancer or other health problems like learning disabilities. (Annie Leonard, Story of Cosmetics)
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Even if you read the ingredient labels before purchasing products, you may not be getting the whole story. A single ingredient, like “synthetic fragrance,” can actually represent hundreds of different chemicals with proven health risks. In fact, in the United States, there are no government mandates requiring that the ingredients found in “fragrance” or “parfum” be listed on the package or anywhere else for that matter – which translates into a serious lack of transparency to the consumer, YOU!
Pick one personal care product that you can’t live without and dig into this challenge:
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Now that you understand the impact of the choices you make daily, spread the word to your friends and DIY (do it yourself) your own products! Making bath and body products ensures total transparency – you get to know exactly what is in your product because you made it. Plus you’ll be creating less waste by reducing packaging. The cherry on top? You’ll probably end up saving some money.
Upload a PDF Document with your responses and photos. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.