For today’s blog topic, my professor showed us this video called the Story of Cosmetics, which examines how we are exposing ourselves to an incredible amount of toxic chemicals, all found in our every day personal care and hygiene products, without even knowing it.
The sad thing is that despite how many negative consequences these ingredients have on the consumer’s health, the health of the workers who help make the product, and the environment, there are essentially no laws put in place by the government to regulate and prevent these ingredients from showing up in our daily products.
After watching this short film, I did my own research and grabbed my body wash and conditioner from the shower, and proceeded to look up which toxins I was exposing myself to on a daily basis. The Environmental Working Group, or EWG for short, offers this handy database where you can search for your products and not only will it give that product an overall Hazard score ranging from 1 to 10.
It also will rate other ingredient concerns like linked with causing cancer, developmental & reproductive toxicity, and allergies & immunotoxicity. They also go into deeper detail and list out every single ingredient, score it, and list the health and environmental concerns linked to that specific ingredient. Cool tool, huh? It gets even better – EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database now has an app for your mobile phone, helping you make better-informed decisions easier as you are browsing the grocery isles.
So what did I find when I looked up my body wash and conditioner? Well, first I started with the Olay Quench body wash, a Proctor & Gamble product, and was shocked to find that it had a rating of 6, just barely still in the moderately hazardous group, and only one point away from being classified as a high hazard.
I then looked up my conditioner because I had been lured into purchasing it over my many other options, because the name of the brand is called “Organix”. While watching the Story of Cosmetics video, I did learn that there is no legal definition for the terms “herbal”, “natural”, and “organic” when it comes to labeling cosmetic products. So I was curious to see how my conditioner, which I had originally found alluring because of its organic nature, would compare to my body wash.
Surprise, surprise, my Organix conditioner is pretty much just as toxic, scoring a 5, placing it in the moderately hazardous category as well.
Now, even though the Olay body wash scored extremely high/hazardous in the developmental and reproductive toxicity category, with my mom having breast cancer, my grandmother having died of breast cancer, and four out of five of my grandmothers sisters (my lovely and spunky great aunts) all having cancer as well, the ingredients linked to causing cancer are a pretty high concern for me. One of the ingredients in my Olay body wash, Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate) has a toxicity score of 8, placing it in the high hazard category, and not only is one of the main concerns associated with it is cancer, but also biochemical or cellular level changes, developmental/reproductive toxicity, and organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). Sounds nasty, huh? HOWEVER, I did some more digging on this Retinyl Acetate crap and it doesn’t seem like people can seem to agree on if this really is a dangerous ingredient. Some websites where you can purchase different vitamins and supplements have removed Reinyl Acetate from stores and no longer carry it because they have deemed it hazardous. While other websites claim that it is actually an essential nutrient. The fact that there seems to be a disagreement on something that could potentially be so hazardous to ones health concerns me. Whether or not this ingredient is hazardous or not, it’s obvious that there should be a better system and set of rules regulating what is acceptable to be an ingredient in the soaps, shampoos, makeup, and other cosmetic products we are daily rubbing over our faces and exposing young children to.