Sunday, May 30, 2010

Confused about Cosmetics, Soaps, Sunscreens? Check out the Environmental Working Group DATABASE

"Pollution is not only an "environmental" issue, it's a public health issue. Learn about the health effects of toxic chemicals that we absorb through our water, food and the products that we use." EWG
The other day I spent hours on a site  learning about ingredients in common skin care products. You may have recently noticed in the news that the FDA says something normally good for us, Vitamin A, can cause trouble if we wear it on our skin in the sun.

"Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions (NTP 2009). This evidence is troubling because the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to 41 percent of all sunscreens."
So  says Environmental Working Group.  That is a link to their sunscreen guide...Mommas especially read up on sunscreen for your children.  And might want to read Not so Sexy ..."A rose may be a rose. But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer."

I was already being careful with sunscreen having looked at the EWG sunscreen guide last year, but then realized one of my favorite  face washes and lotions also has Vitamin A in it. That product  has now been relegated to night time use only.   I started dragging  everything out of the  bathroom cabinet.  Even if a particular product has not been analyzed on the site, you can put in the ingredients and read about those on the Cosmetics Database .     You'll find products listed with their individual ingredients assessed.  Everything is linked and backed up with resources.

 Products get two scores.  One score  has to do with what they call DATA GAPS...some things aren't researched and if products have ingredients on which no study has been done, that is noted.  The other score is a 0-10  number to indicate safety  where 0 is desirable.  I was happy to see that ALOE VERA GEL is rated 0.  Neem Oil which is a great garden product but also used in cosmetics gets a 0 too.   I will let you look up the bad guys yourselves. Once you have figured out whether or not your shampoo, or toothpaste or skin cream is the right choice for you then you can compare radiation emissions on various brands of cell phones or check out water purity reports.   

Of course the obvious answer is to use fewer and simpler products.  There are catchy phrases and endorsements on many products that really don't  stand up to scrutiny. Some words that tend to lull us into feeling safe, "dermatologists-tested,"  "organic,"  or "natural,"  may not really be  trustworthy claims.  With no required safety testing companies can use a lot of chemicals  that can raise havoc with our health.  A little  label reading coupled with a little knowledge beautifully organized and you have a working example of the power of  information.

Consider printing up the Shopper's guide to Safe Cosmetics and carry it to the store with you ...and yes...I had to get my magnifying glass out to see some of this stuff, but I am glad I did.  What is PEG anyway?  And why should we avoid Methylchloroisothiazolinone? 

And now a little aside on last week's technology difficulties. On a whim I decided to see if the USB  port (I just learned that USB stands for "universal serial bus," so excuse me while I type that out in hopes of remembering that ) might just work and after repeated attempts last week to download pictures with no success.. the port put the info on the bus and  downloaded my snapshot of  my computer and the lotions I was investigating.  Maybe it was a vanity issue, how could my computer not download a picture of itself?

In the meatime, the VSC light and check engine light came on in my that got $$ fixed $$.  Good thing my computer hasn't crashed yet! 

Okay, out into the sun...Hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing...


Carol............. said...

Hey, thinks for the link. It ;looks like some good information to have. I love my makeup and will not go without it.

Won't even let my chickens see me in the "raw"!!!! LOL

I Wonder Wye said...

THANKS for this info. I am careful about what lotions etc I put on my face, knowing it will be absorbed in the skin. Had a skincare column awhile and allowed a lot of research (which I loved). My current fave is the Kiehl's line, started by a pharmacist back in 1850s...

GretchenJoanna said...

Thanks for the tip! I love lanolin...maybe after reading some of this info I'll use more of that.

Haddock said...

I think going back to the grandma's method is the answer to all this.
Use natural things from the kitchen.