Cosmetics and personal care items women and men use every day are packed with a constellation of chemicals that health advocates say could be connected to a host of health problems.

More than 200 possible endocrine-disrupting chemicals currently in use in cosmetics and personal care products have been identified.

? A big unknown is how chemicals interact with each other in the body after they are absorbed through the skin.

The FDA can turn to the Department of Justice and federal courts for restraining orders, seizures or criminal actions to stop the sale of mislabeled or contaminated cosmetic products that are available to the public. However, the agency doesn’t vet cosmetics before they hit store shelves. ?

In fact, manufacturers don’t have to tell the government watchdog much of anything about their products — not the ingredients they use, where their products are manufactured, or even what their safety data shows.


9 Key facts you must know:

  1. Personal care products can be made with any of 10,500 different chemical ingredients. This includes many known carcinogens, such as BHA (butylated hydroxy anisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) which are common preservatives in skin creams. This includes many known endocrine-disruptors, such as phthalates common in scented creams and body washes. Endocrine-disruptors can wreak havoc with your hormones. Your hormones influence many of your biological functions, such as your metabolism, brain and behavior, and your immune system.
  2. The disparity in standards between the EU and US has grown to the extent it touches almost every element of most Americans’ lives. 

In cosmetics alone, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals ? while the US has outlawed or curbed just 11. ?

The cosmetics industry is the most un-regulated industry in the U.S. The FDA relies on the industry to “self-regulate” in terms of the chemicals they put in their products. This means they can add anything to products that increases profitability, do zero testing, and sell it to you.

    1. Cosmetics are a $532 billion dollar industry. The lobbyists for this industry hold tremendous sway at state and federal levels and have shown they’ll fight tooth and nail for anything that reduces their profitability.
  • ? On average, women use 12 personal care products daily, exposing themselves to 168 different chemical ingredients each day. Men use 6, exposing themselves to 85 unique chemicals.
  1. Self Care. Your skin literally “eats” what you apply to it if the molecules are small enough. And the chemicals these companies put in their products are small enough, because they are designed to penetrate your skin in order to function.
  2. Unlike the food you put into your mouth, which goes through various “filters” such as your liver to remove toxins, the toxins your skin consumes have no such filter. They are consumed into the deeper layers of your ski. They often contain molecules small enough to be consumed directly into your bloodstream and sent to the organs throughout your body.
  3. ? Cosmetic companies are aware they’re using certain toxic chemicals. They’re “reasoning” is that it is contained in such small amounts that it’s not going to hurt anyone. And if you rarely used these products, that might be true. However, people use these products day after day, year after year, so it’s more like “death by a thousand cuts.” Since 2009, 595 cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 88 chemicals, in more than 73,000 products, that have been linked to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm.
  4. Be overly cautious of companies calling their own products “natural” or “organic.” First, let’s be clear about what the terms actually mean. Organic refers to something that was produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage, ionizing radiation, as well as antibiotics and growth hormones. Natural means something that originally “existed in” or was “derived from” nature. ? Additionally, if something is “certified organic” or “certified natural,” then you’ll need to look at how that specific certifying agency defines those terms.

? For those with sensitive skin or skin conditions, a genuinely great organic line needs to offer more than just natural ingredients and great reviews. In addition to our selection criteria, we’ve also tagged and organized each brand by six additional features to help you easily discover the organic skin care line that will best meet your beauty needs:

  • 100% Organic Ingredients
  • GMO Free
  • Cruelty Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegan, and 
  • Certified Organic.

Because the industry is largely unregulated, they can say virtually anything, and “organic” could mean a single organic ingredient amidst a sea of synthetic and toxic ingredients. Look for products with the USDA Certified Organic seal or its equivalents.

Consumers have to realize they have the power to become more vocal and demand change.

In lieu of any new laws, consumer advocates want federal agencies to act more aggressively and defy chemical industry lobbyists. They concede, however, a more likely recourse is an upwelling of public outrage at the risks faced in mundanities such as applying makeup.

Support is overwhelming for stricter regulations on chemicals to ensure safety.

  • 77% voted “Yes” with
  • 63% voting “Strongly YES to regulations”
  • 11% oppose regulations with 
  • 7% strongly opposing any regulation. 
  • 12% voted “Undecided.”

Do you favor stricter regulations on chemicals in cosmetics in the U.S. to ensure your safety?