beautycounter expert discusses ingredients in american beauty products

As a Chalkboard reader, you may feel quite familiar with the idea that, as a consumer, you’ve got to act as your own advocate.

Trends and popular ideas about health and wellness change all the time. At some point, as health-oriented people who shop in a marketing saturated world, we learn to do our own homework and make as educated a choice as possible about the products we buy every day.

As much as we know about natural beauty, after chatting with Beautycounter’s Head of Community Affairs, Lindsay Dahl we still found it tough to wrap our brains around a few of these facts on American beauty products and our personal care industry as a whole….

the FDA does not screen the safety of ingredients in personal care products. According to Beautycounter’s website, “There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don’t have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skin care and beauty industry.

What’s worse is that the Food and Drug Administration (the agency that regulates cosmetics in the United States) allows companies to use chemicals known to be extremely harmful in the products we put on our bodies and on our kids’ bodies every single day, day after day, and to make their own judgments about safety.”

In our chat with Dahl, we talked about the history of the beauty industry and why there is such a lack of oversight from the FDA. Historically speaking, the beauty and personal care industry has aways been quite small, including the list of commonly used ingredients. But flash forward, through the growth of the American economy after WWII on through today, and the amount of products now available in beauty is staggering. There has been no other period in human history where so many new chemicals, formulas and products have been introduced into the marketplace.  And along the way, no specific body of people have ever been designated to stop and consider safety.

There are nearly 1400 personal care product ingredients banned in the EU.The United States has only partially banned 30. One of the most compelling stats for those who are new to the idea of switching to clean, non-toxic personal care products is the above. Many of the beauty world’s “worst offenders” are banned around the world, but not in the U.S. Based on the regulatory differences, Beautycounter’s Dahl even noted to us that many large personal care brands create different formulas for EU retailers than they do for the U.S.

A Few Ingredients Banned In The EU, But Not In The US: 

Hydroquinone: Used in anti-aging products; banned over 1% concentrations in the EU.
Parabens: Two parabens are banned in the EU over .14% concentration.
Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen in hair and other personal care products. Banned.
Phthalates: Three types of phthalates are banned completely from personal care products in the EU.

1938 was the year the last comprehensive federal law regarding chemical safety in personal care was passed. How many beauty products do you think stars of the 1930’s like Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow had on their vanities? How do you think your makeup bag would compare? There’s no doubt that, when it comes to beauty products, the innovations in technology we millennials enjoy are out of this world. But, while most of the beauty product ingredients we use today are prized for their innovative formulas, many have not been screened for safety approval. Some ingredients have been studied, have been proven dangerous, but are still unregulated.

The Good news.The natural beauty industry is booming. Along with the swell of interest in health and wellness these days, more of us are paying attention to the quality of the ingredients in our food and personal care products.

Many of the changes and improvements we’re seeing in what hits the shelves have come in response to consumer demand. A few things we’ve noticed? More personal care products marked phthalate, paraben or petrochemical free.

Additionally, the growing interest in wellness has effected the product’s producers themselves. According to Dahl, more companies are starting to pay attention to the compelling science coming from major trusted medical organizations on personal care products. Savvy companies are also seeing international regulatory policy changes and getting ahead of the curve.

We applaud Beautycounter for taking a strong lead on new regulation in the beauty industry. Learn more about Beautycounter’s Counteract Coalition and their active engagement in D.C. for over three years, including their support of Senators Feinstein and Collin on the new Personal Care Safety Act. The Coalition hopes to push Congress to take the bill into hearings soon.

Just learning about natural and non-toxic beauty? We’ve got loads of resources for you!
Find our Lifestyle + Natural Beauty section here and let us know your questions and comments below!

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