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Saving Face: Making the Case for Natural Face Care

Here in the good old USA, cosmetics and personal care products are a $50 billion industry. Limited regulation allows these products to use ingredients linked to cancer, reproductive harm and other serious health problems. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the safety of personal care products in the U.S., but lacks the basic authority needed to ensure that products are actually safe.

In May 2002, a coalition of environmental and public health organizations contracted with a major national laboratory to test 72 name-brand, off-the-shelf beauty products for the presence of phthalates, a large family of hormone disrupting chemicals. The laboratory found phthalates in nearly three-quarters of the products tested! The report findings demonstrated that high levels of phthalates in women could be coming from fragrances and other cosmetics.  Because of these findings, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics was launched to address the major loopholes in federal law that allowed the industry to use toxic chemicals in cosmetics without informing the public about health risks. 

The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics advocated for major companies to stop using toxic chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects in their products, and have had success from cosmetic companies like L’Oreal and Revlon who agreed to eliminate certain toxic chemicals from their U.S. products. However, many cosmetic companies continue to use harmful chemicals that are banned in other countries because regulation is so limited.

However, there are safer alternatives available AND there are steps you can take to reduce toxic exposures in your home and protect the health of your family. Refusing to buy brands that use toxic ingredients and choosing face care products that are natural is the best way to protect yourself from harmful ingredients in makeup and other face products.

SLN’s Take Home Message

  1. Choose face care products with simpler ingredient lists and fewer synthetic chemicals. Avoid synthetic fragrance by skipping products with “fragrance” on the label, and use fewer products overall.
  2. DIY- Make your own face care products using simple, organic ingredients.
  3. Research products yourself.  Look beyond the marketing claims and read labels carefully. Avoid products in this Ingredient Watch List.

Here are a few face care products that are natural and toxic-free.

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