USFDA states that "all skin care products that aren't soap are cosmetics". I, too, once thought that all skin care products are "approved", tested for safety, allergic reactions and much more. The reality - no! USFDA has a final authority, however it does not really regulate cosmetic manufacture or what goes in it. The only way to really know what is in your body products is to make it yourself! While this idea seems unrealistic for many due to time/skills/equipment/knowledge/motivation issues, it is not a bad idea to educate yourself and know the ingredients. Do not be mislead by the packaging and pretty label design! Read the ingredients! READ THE INGREDIENTS. Just read.
In the past, we have shopped for skin care products. We always had a coupon for a free product from a well-known bath&body store, or had a coupon that would save us some great deal of money, so we were not concerned with the product - we love freebes! Later, as we realized that these good-looking and so pleasantly smelling products are actually having nothing good in them and are packed with toxins and chemicals, we realized that saving money is the LAST thing we need to keep in mind. All those appealing coupons with a free product offer have gone into the recycling bin. We tried our best to only buy "all natural", "made with organic" or non-gmo, certified fair-trade products. I still have some of store-bought products in my bathroom. Just for fun, I went through all of these products and wrote down all the ingredients I was not familiar with. This list includes:
- Polysorbate 60
- Stearic Acid
- Potassium Sorbate
- Aromatic Extract
Yes, this list is short and sweet, but remember this is only "all-natural" skin care items found in my bathroom.
Most likely, skin care product that were not in all-natural section will include much more ingrediets with long unknown names. I came upon an article (1) in which author lists many cancerogens found in skin cre products. The list includes:
-----petrolatum, which is mineral oil jelly, as well as mineral oil, which are carcinogenic by-products of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. ----- parabens, which are known to mimic estrogen and suspected of being carcinogens. ----- preservative BHT, which is another carcinogen also linked to allergic reactions, hyperactivity, rashes, asthma, and toxicity to the liver and kidneys. ----- other carcinogens found: titanium dioxide, triethanolamine (TEA), and DMDM-hydantoin (a formaldehyde releaser). ----- Methylisothiazolinone, which causes nerve damage. ----- Sodium hydroxide, which is lye or drain cleaner ----- Polysorbate 80 and Ceteareth-20, other chemicals found among the ingredients, are commonly contaminated with the highly toxic 1,4-dioxane. ----- EDTA, a harsh detergent and hormone disruptor, was also present, and so was phenoxyethanol, which “can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea” in infants. ---- also found diazolidinyl urea, a preservative that releases carcinogenic formaldehyde and can cause dermatitis.
The author continues that "for skin care products, it is certainly ironic to find chemicals that cause dermatitis, and there was yet another such chemical, propylene glycol, associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatits as well as contact urticaria (hives). Butylene glycol was also found. These two glycols are also found in antifreeze.
Another author (2) did a casual survey of the ingredients in some popular “natural” brands found in health food stores and this survey revealed many long chemical names. Author writes: "There was also undisclosed “fragrance”, almost certainly synthetic, and such fragrances have been documented to be carcinogenic and toxic in other ways, causing headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration, coughing, vomiting, and skin irritation as well as nervous system and behavioral effects. There were also chemical preservatives such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate. Sodium benzoate has many toxic effects on the body as outlined in its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), and when combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), it forms benzene, a known carcinogen. Potassium sorbate is fundamentally non-toxic but can cause skin irritation per its MSDS. In any case, it seems that synthetic preservatives that inhibit the growth of micro-organisms would also generally not be beneficial to other living organisms such as humans.
In these “natural” skin care products, were also found vitamins, listed by their chemical names, and therefore probably synthetic. Some studies published in Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other journals suggest that some synthetic vitamins are toxic, and some extracted vitamins have been found to be useless since they need to be in a whole food form because the whole vitamin is a complex, not just the one molecule identified as the principal component.
In “natural” products were also found certain vegetable oils that could be harmful: polyunsaturated oils like safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, corn, soy, and canola. High heat is generally used in the production of these oils. Polyunsaturated oils are unstable, fragile, and susceptible to rancidity when subjected to heat, which causes the production of free radicals, associated with cell damage, aging, and disease. Certainly, we do not want to be applying products high in free radicals to our skin, causing the very types of problems we are trying to relieve or prevent. And polyunsaturates would not seem to be conducive to skin health, extrapolating from the fact that the modern excess consumption of these types of oils leads to a host of health problems.
Source: 1 - http://www.ihealthcue.com/title_details.php?tbl=dGJsX3NraW5fYmVhdXR5|ODE=
Source: 2 - http://www.vintagetradition.com/harmful-ingredients-of-modern-skin-care.php