Recently, I’ve become addicted to the app Think Dirty. This app allows me to scan bar codes on any beauty product and learn exactly what effect each ingredient will have on my body. After learning that my shampoo, conditioner, face cream, and other products that I had consciously bought at a health food store were given the highest rating of toxicity on the app’s scale, I decided to do some research and see where my “conscious” consumerism was going wrong.
While Europe has banned 1,373 chemicals from cosmetics manufacturing, the United States has banned only 8.
The toxicity of cosmetics is a major problem that tends to be overlooked in the US. We are contaminating our bodies every single day and seem to be blind to it. Less than 20% of chemicals in cosmetics have been assessed for safety in our country. While Europe has banned 1,373 chemicals from cosmetics manufacturing, the United States has banned only 8. Additionally, the cosmetics industry has made it difficult for the average consumer to decide which cosmetics are safe. Words such as herbal, natural, or organic have no legal definition on cosmetics labels, so even conscious buyers are being misled. On top of that, the labels “not tested on animals” and “cruelty free” also bear no legal meaning. Our skin is our largest organ and everything we put on it is absorbed into our bloodstream. Not only are we polluting our own bodies, but babies are now being born with increasing amounts of toxins already in their bodies. It’s time to save our ourselves before the damage becomes irreversible.
So how do we become conscious cosmetic users when the industry is making it so impossible to do so?
A general rule of thumb is not to buy any product that includes an ingredient you cannot pronounce. Additionally, apps like Think Dirty and websites like http://www.safecosmetics.org provide us with resources to learn about the effects of chemicals commonly found in beauty products and can tell us exactly which ingredients to stay away from. On a larger scale, political involvement is a great way to assure a more responsible future for the cosmetics industry. Check out this website to get involved in the legislative process and secure a healthier future for our country.
Emily Green is originally from Mystic, CT. She is currently a sophomore at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, majoring in international affairs with a minor in sustainability. She is a member a blog contributor of Green GW. In her free time she loves dancing, doing yoga, and being in nature.