Choose Safe Cosmetics
Beauty should be more than skin deep. Be conscious of the toxic chemicals that may be in the cosmetics and toiletries you use.
Some beauty products contain carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals that increase breast cancer risk. Ask yourself which products you can do without, since the best way to avoid chemicals is to use fewer products. Each product you cut from your beauty ritual decreases the number and quantity of chemicals to which you're exposed.
What are all those chemicals on the ingredient label? Find out which ones are linked to breast cancer.Science overview of chemicals in cosmetics >
Although it's just one little word on the ingredient label, "fragrance" can contain dozens, even hundreds, of chemicals—including hormone-disrupting phthalates and synthetic musks. Fragrance manufacturers claim the formulas are confidential business information, and sometimes even keep them secret from the companies that sell their products. Even fragrances that purport to be natural can contain chemicals of concern, so choose products that disclose every ingredient.
Until we change the law so consumers are fully informed about what's in our products, it's best to avoid synthetic fragrance and opt for products that are fragrance-free or that fully disclose their fragrance ingredients.
Read labels for specific information on a product's ingredients, rather than relying on claims like "organic" or "natural." A USDA-certified organic seal means 95% or more organic ingredients. But a claim of "made with organic ingredients" or "made with natural ingredients" still leaves plenty of room for harmful synthetics.
One great way to know exactly what’s in your products is to make your own, often out of everyday ingredients you have in your cupboards or refrigerator. Look for natural beauty products or make your own out of common household ingredients.
If you go for a mani-pedi, select a nail salon that stocks only nail polishes free of the toxic trio (formaldehyde, toluene—which can be contaminated with benzene—and dibutyl phthalate). Also look for a nail salon that has good ventilation for the entire shop. Choosing a nail salon that engages in these safety practices can help protect your health and the health of the workers who are there every day.
We all have our favorite makeup and toiletries. To find out whether your go-to products are safe or not, try Think Dirty's shop clean app. This easy-to-use resource ranks the safety of specific products on a scale of 1-10 and offers up cleaner solutions.
Individual brands aside, some products are just bad news. Things to avoid:
- Anti-aging creams with BHA on the label
- Hair dyes, which can contain hormone disruptors like resorcinol
- Liquid hand soaps with triclosan/triclocarban
- Nail polish and removers with formaldehyde, DBP or toluene (which can be contaminated with benzene)
- Skin lighteners with hydroquinone
- Heavily scented products
- Moisturizers, ointments and skin creams with petrolatum (which can be contaminated with PAHs)
- Fungicides, shaving creams, hair gels and hair coloring containing nonylphenol
- Hair spray, gel, mousse or shaving cream that contains isobutane, a propellant that can be contaminated with 1,3-butadiene
- Sunscreens with UV filters that mimic estrogen