7 Things the U.S. Beauty Industry Pays Millions to Hide
The average person (regardless of gender) uses 12 different personal care products per day. From lotion and shaving cream to deodorant and shampoo, we all use some sort of product every single day. Because of the lack of regulation in this industry the use of these products is unknowingly exposing you to upwards of 500 unique chemicals with each and every day! Many of these chemicals are easily and quickly absorbed into your skin, metabolized (or "eaten") by your body, and are known to cause a laundry list of long-term problems to your physiology. The most common of these diseases are mild and severe skin reactions, reproductive hormone disruption, and in my opinion the worst of them because it occurs slowly over time, cancer. We'll touch on the "cumulative loophole" later which leads to those particularly devastating diseases with repeated exposure after years and years of use.
The SAME Stuff for the Last 70 Years!?
Considering there are significant regulations in place for nearly every industry, it's alarming that not a single cosmetic chemical has been banned by the FDA since 1976, nor have any cosmetic safety bills been passed in over 70 years! The U.S. still has under 20 chemicals that have been banned for use in cosmetics and personal care - with little manpower to enforce it (especially through customs) - while the EU has recognized over 1200 chemicals as unlawful for use in self-care products. There are currently around 10,000 chemicals that can be used by manufacturers in the products you use every day, sometimes several times per day! Chemicals that you put directly on your skin to be absorbed, your lips to be ingested, and down the drain contaminating the environment.
No Joke: Did you know that several large beauty giants change the formula of products that do not meet EU standards so they can continue to sell them in the EU, but choose to keep the cheaper, more toxic formula of the same product for sale here in the U.S.?
Who Regulates the Beauty Industry?
Few people know that cosmetics and personal care products are regulated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), not the FDA. The CIR is funded by the cosmetic industry giants themselves. The FDA merely sets guidelines for labeling (very loose guidelines... see FDA link:http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceRegulation/LawsRegulations/ucm074162.htm)
CIR employed dermatologists settle for short-term skin patch testing to determine the safety of their products, many passing with "not enough information". I'm sure you can see the conflict of interest here!
I'll tell you a short story: When I started my business back in 2015, I took it upon myself to try to register my product line with the FDA. To my surprise, I found large red letters at the top of their web page saying that the registration process is "voluntary", that "no certification" is given by doing so, and that the products "must already be in commerce" when voluntarily registering a product. What this means is that we are basically guinea pigs for any new product that comes along and even products that have been on the market for years or decades. Think: all the lawsuits for cancer-causing ingredients found products made by one of the largest manufacturers that you were tricked into using, your mom was tricked into using on you, and your mom's mom was tricked into using on her!
"Fragrance is found in almost everything and can contain hundreds of the most toxic ingredients. Manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients in fragrance because they are determined as a "trade secret" (a giant loophole in FDA labeling requirements). Think about the distinct scent of a well-known baby powder brand. While it's fair that they want to protect their business, it isn't fair that we as consumers also cannot decide for ourselves if the product is safe or not. You might often see a label read "natural fragrance" but the lack of regulation leaves many holes in that verbiage.
We say: Organic certification gives us the confidence to say we absolutely do not formulate with "fragrance", but with organic plant extracts called essential oils. Each and every ingredient in our formulations are readily available on the ingredient panel and our website. A quick note to clarify that just because essential oils come from a plant, we understand they are not always safe. Our motto is less is more, and we never overpower formulations or use oils that are not safe for all ages.
The Cumulative Loophole
While it's true that some of the chemicals found in personal care products can be harmless in trace amounts, their effects are cumulative, and it is impossible to fully measure the danger created by their daily, repeated use over an entire lifetime. This means that it is up to us as consumers to read product labels and decide what to bring into our homes. When the majority of these ingredients are unpronounceable and require one to be well-versed in chemistry and toxicology, choosing “safe” products becomes a huge challenge.
We say: Organic certification has made BEE-OCH ingredient labels easy to read, with the list always kept under 10 (actually 8 just happens to be the most amount of ingredients we ever use in one product). Our ingredients are the real thing, listed by their real names, and not distinguished by chemical nomenclature.
We've All Seen "Greenwashing", but what is it?
In addition to the obvious reasons for the need for legislative change, there is the business side. Large corporations will continue to use toxic chemicals in their products simply because they can and there is no federal regulation to stop them. Their profit margin seemingly depends on using these cheaply made harmful ingredients. However, they understand that natural and organic beauty is what appeals to consumers, so what do they do? They distract you from the back ingredient panel by putting misleading pictures like leaves, flowers, and fruits and verbiage like natural, non-toxic, and even organic on the front panel to make them seem like a healthy choice. This is called greenwashing, making it even more important for consumers to read ingredient panels.
We say: Organic certification has separated us from the crowd, making it easy to see that our products are certified organic vs. just making the claim on our label. Companies who claim organic without having the USDA Organic Logo and actually being certified is truly a slap in the face to those of us who take the time to enforce the traceback system and integrity behind our brand per organic standards. Next time you see a company claiming organic without the seal - ask them, can I see your traceback system?
We all know that chemistry is so interesting because you can combine two and get something completely different. Have you considered that the same thing happens inside the bottles we buy? Part of the reason such astonishing and toxic ingredients can be found in beauty products is that the witch's brew of chemicals in formulations can react with one another. Combining to create something unintentional, yet there nonetheless. Simple testing reveals these ingredients in products, which many companies know about and sell anyway. Because they did not physically include these toxic ingredients, they do not have to include them on the ingredient panel.
We say: There are many great resources put together by the EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, namely the "Red List" where they identify common ingredients in products that tend to create by-products. Here is a link to those resources: http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/red-list/ and you can also download the full 16-page spreadsheet of toxic chemicals to avoid.
No Animal Testing?
I think we can all agree that animal testing is cruel and inhumane. I beg of you not to support companies that partake in animal testing. They inject and slather and often times kill animals for the benefit of their company. But how can you be so sure that a company doesn't test on animals? In general, corporate giants make claims like no animal testing, but what it means is that "we" don't test on animals, we hire others to do it for us.
We say: It's important to research a company before you buy and decide for yourself if they should be trusted as socially responsible and with yours and the environment's health. BEE-OCH products are never ever tested on animals. We test with panels of human volunteers before ever releasing a new product and fulfill our responsibility to make sure each and every product is clean, green, and safe.
What We're Doing To Help
BEE-OCH Organics and many others have joined the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in the fight against cancer-causing chemicals and are advocating label-reading and FULL disclosure of ingredients. I have personally participated in a study on cosmetics marketed towards children and submitted 5 different products from big box stores in the state of Colorado for lab testing. Many ingredients found were incredibly toxic, such as lead and some of the same chemicals in Teflon (PFOA).
Here are some of my favorite resources:
• Check the safety rating of your products in the EWG Skin Deep Database:
Products are ingredients can easily be searched and are given a safety rating of 0-5, 0 being the safest. Be sure to check out BEE-OCH Products! We are proud to fly only the safest rating scores! Pro-tip, this is the most accurate database we've found as it is entirely non-profit and they do not charge a fee to submit product formulations. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
• Read the book that helped fuel and motivate me to create safe products:
Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry
Book by Stacy Malkan
• Watch the movie that made waves in the chemical industry:
https://stinkmovie.com/ A jawdropping, eye-opening, thought-provoking film by a widowed father and his daughters. Keep an eye out for a free version of this movie, sometimes it goes on Netflix, and other times they offer it directly on their website.