It turns out beauty is more than skin deep! The average person slathers, lathers, rubs and sprays, 10 different skin care products on his or her body every day--and since our skin acts more like a sponge than a barrier, we absorb the nearly 130 chemicals we regularly expose ourselves to. Cosmetics companies say that these chemicals are safe, and many of them are, in small doses at least.
But consider that the average woman ingest as much as 1.8 Kilos of lipstick in her lifetime, and you begin to understand how a little dab here a quick spray there begins to add up. The fact is, no one really knows how certain chemicals affect us over a time, or how they react in our bodies in combination. Other chemicals have known dangers: Phthalates, for example, which are often found in artificial fragrances, are a class of hormone disruptor known to cause birth defects, sperm damage, infertility, and the feminization of baby boys, for instance.
Almost 90 percent of the 10,500 cosmetics and skin care ingredients known to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not been evaluated for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, the FDA, or any other publicly accountable institution, according to the Environmental Working Group. To be fair, no one's dropping dead after a using a mascara wand or a body wash, and manufacturers have an interest in creating products that don't harm their customers. But complex chemicals with potential unknown side effects lead us to follow the Precautionary Principle.
That is to say, if we'd prefer to err on the side of safety until we know. We're not the only ones who feel this way: More than 1,110 personal-product ingredients have been banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union because of concerns that they may cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive ills. By contrast only 10 are banned in the U.S.
In Australia CHOICE found that a number of ingredients banned in other countries could be found in products on our shelves.