The Unregulated World of Personal Care Products

Did you know that the chemicals used in personal care products (all 80,000 of them) are almost entirely unregulated in the U.S.?  In fact, no personal care products are required to undergo testing before they enter the U.S. market. Crazy!! Lotion, shower gel, shaving cream, deodorant, sunscreen, makeup, etc. Concern over the chemical makeup of these products is something that has crossed my mind many times, but I never really took the time to really figure it out until now.  Here's some information on what you should be aware of, some tools available to determine if the products you use are safe and a few favorite chemical conscious brands. 

Luckily, I had an eye opening experience last month while listening to an in-depth interview with Gregg Renfrew, founder of BeautyCounter, during a Summit event at Powder Mountain. Renfrew revealed a plethora of disturbing facts and information about the chemicals in our products and the lack of protections in place to safeguard you and me. Apparently, the US hasn’t passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938 - that was 79 years ago!! BeautyCounter’s website states that “Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 in the product formulas of personal care products and restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date.” Remember the hair product company WEN that had advertisements EVERYWHERE? Well they've had over 17,000 complaints filed against them, in addition to class action lawsuits, claiming that their products make people's hair fall out. And guess what? Their products are still on the market.  

 Gregg Renfrew, founder of BeautyCounter being interviewed by David Gelles of the New York Times

Gregg Renfrew, founder of BeautyCounter being interviewed by David Gelles of the New York Times

The FDA allows chemicals known to be harmful to be used in skincare and beauty products that we slather bodies in on a daily basis.  Did you know that the term “fragrance” can include any number of about 1,500 chemicals and by law, you don't have to be told which ones? Even products labeled “unscented” can contain “fragrance” to mask or neutralize unpleasant scents of other chemicals. Advertising for these harmful, chemical laden products are designed to be misleading and make you think you’re making smart, healthy decisions. It’s up to you to educate and protect yourself because the manufacturers and brands aren’t going to.

Not all chemicals are bad for you and it’s important to know the difference. I encourage everyone to head to your bathroom cabinets and make-up drawers today and toss (or at least don’t buy again) anything that has ingredients listed on Beauty Counter’s The Never list.  Another good resource is an app called ThinkDirty, which makes it easy for you to figure out how dangerous your favorite products are by simply entering the product or scanning a barcode into it’s search engine.

Wondering what brands aren’t full of harmful chemicals? Here’s a short list with links I’ve put together after crowdsourcing favorite chemical conscious brands from friends:

Lotions, Soaps, Toothpaste & Shave gel

Deodorant (stop using aluminum products ASAP!!)

  • Native (I’ve heard great reviews about this product – just ordered some!)
  • Tom’s

Shampoo & Conditioner

Skincare & Makeup

Sunscreens (great website with more information on all sunscreens here)

  • Sunbum
  • EltaMD
  • Raw Elements
  • BlueLizzard