Major loopholes in federal law allow the cosmetics industry to put unlimited amounts of chemicals into personal care products without testing for health effects or adequate labeling requirements. While the chemicals in any one personal care product may not cause harm by themselves, it makes a lot of sense to minimize the amount of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems in the numerous products we use every day.
Antibacterial products such as soap may cause more harm than good, killing harmless bacteria and making your body resistant to the antibiotics you may need one day. Some bacteria, for example, are developing resistance to triclosan, a common antibacterial ingredient. Triclosan may also be bad for your health.
What you can do
Find out about the health concerns associated with the products you use. Go to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website or Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep report, a database of over 14,000 personal care products, their ingredients and potential health concerns. You can also find safer alternatives in the Skin Deep report.
You don’t always have to pay more to find safer products. Some products that score very well on the Skin Deep report are inexpensive and can be found in many well-known stores. And there is no guarantee that paying more ensures your products are safer. In fact, some of the more expensive products scored poorly in the Skin Deep review.
Beyond Pesticide’s Triclosan factsheet
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Factsheet
Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Shopping Guide
Not Too Pretty
Pretty Nasty–Phthalates in European Cosmetic Products
Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database
The Green Guide’s Lip and Eye Makeup product report
The Green Guide’s Moisturizers, Body Lotions and Hand Creams product report
The Green Guide’s Nail Products report
The Green Guide’s Shampoo product report
The Green Guide’s Sunscreens and Sunblocks product report
Unmasked: 12 Ugly Truths Behind the Myth of Cosmetic Safety
Resources about Nail Salons and Health Concerns
Environmental Protection Agency’s Protecting the Health of Nail Salon Workers report
Glossed Over: Health Hazards Associated with Toxic Exposure in Nail Salons
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum’s: The Nail Salon Industry: The Impact of Environmental Toxins on API Women’s Reproductive Health issue brief