On average, the typical American consumer uses about nine personal care products each day. Between these nine products, which normally consist of creams, perfumes, shampoos and soaps, there are more than 125 ingredients, many of which are not considered healthy substances.
Public concern over these unhealthy substances has been one reason many companies have turned to organic cosmetic products. Even though organic has become an option for everything from bread wheat to lean meat and hair spray to furniture polish, are these products really better than their predecessors?
Buying organic, as a way to avoid using unhealthy substances, also costs considerably more. It’s enough to make any consumer wonder if a $19 bottle of nail polish is made any differently, or healthily, than a $.99 bottle.
What about common consumer products such as makeup? Let’s take a look:
What makes organic, organic?
When a product is labeled organic, it means that particular product is free of herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers and pesticides, all of which are chemicals considered to be unhealthy, and all of which were once used in common consumer items. Since many of these harsh chemicals have been linked to various types of cancer, they are no longer approved for use by the Environment Protection Agency.
Consumer shelves remain filled with chemical-laden skin care products so it is important to know what to look for when in search of products, personal skin car products, that are ethnically organic. The only true way to know if a product is organic is to look for the USDA or Department of Agriculture organic symbol.
This organic symbol means that product has been verified or certified organic by the USDA. While any product can claim to be organic, without the USDA symbol it is not a certified organic product. This means it is not guaranteed by the USDA to be free of herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers and pesticides.
While personal skin care products may be easier to decipher due to their printed ingredient list, makeup can be a challenge. The print is either extremely tiny, non-existent or labeled with words meant for rocket scientists. Here is a run down of the three most common make up products that pose ingredient challenges:
Mascara: When purchasing mascara, understand that hypoallergenic or natural is not the same thing as organic. If you can squint long enough to read the ingredient label, ingredients you want to avoid are parabens – a preservative related to breast tumors and breast cancer — or BHAs, also labeled as salicylic acid*, salicylate, sodium salicylate, willow extract, beta hydroxybutanoic acid, tropic acid, trethocanic acid – a synthetic antioxidant that is known to induce allergic reactions and is a possible human carcinogen. It ‘s worth noting that the use of BHA in cosmetics is unrestricted in Canada.
According to the US FDA – *From a chemist’s perspective, salicylic acid is not a true BHA. However, cosmetic companies often refer to it as a BHA and, consequently, many consumers think of it as one.
Nail polish: A highly used product by millions around the world, nail polish remains a relatively toxic product. Nail polish is made from ethyl acetate and butyl acetate, organic solvents used for their quick drying and easy application.
They are mixed with thickeners and hardening agents called nitrocellulose, basically plastics dissolved in ethyl acetate. When this solvent dissolves (evaporates), the plastic (nail polish color) stays on the nail. The polish color itself is made from different dyes, some of which include mica and aluminum to make the polish pearl-like or glittery.
To remove those stunning shades, find nail polish remover that is labeled DBP-free or tolene free.
Lipstick: Another product used by millions of women each day, lipstick makes any smile a brilliant one, but did you know that most consumer lipsticks and lip glosses contains lead. Lip color is probably one of the most challenging cosmetic products to determine due to the lack of, or extremely tiny, font used for an ingredient list.
Either way, nearly every drugstore brand of lipstick contains lead, known to cause a variety of health issues in adults that range from muscle weakness and memory loss to numbness of extremities and miscarriages. Lead is still used and approved for use by the USFDA in lipsticks today.