This is a fair question, and one I hear often. I have shared about how unregulated the industry is, but it’s fair to ask if that actually matters at all.
This post is a brief look into what we know about the connection between personal care products and our health. We certainly don't have all the answers, but I believe that we have enough data to know that what we put on our skin matters.
I'm not going to overload you with data here or dip into fear mongering territory, but every time I see this, I am more motivated to share what I've learned.
I have eight female friends. I have eight female relatives. I bet you do, too. This number is too high and the fact that it's jumped this much in just forty years is not good.
Even more concerning is that only 15% of these cases are genetic in nature. 85% of breast cancer cases are thought to be caused by environmental factors (including the one that took my grandma back in 2014).
What does that mean in terms of personal care products?
1. Because of the lack of regulation in the industry , there are *known* environmental toxins in our products like carcinogens (ex: coal tar ingredients), endocrine disrupters (ex: phthalates), allergens (ex: SLS), etc. in our products. Not suspected harmful ingredients, KNOWN ONES.
And new fact: only 10% of the estimated 10,000 ingredients used in the industry have ever even been tested for human safety, so we don't even know where 90% of the ingredients fall in terms of health.
2. We are exposed to environmental toxins all the time and there is an ever growing body of evidence that these toxins are impacting our health (like the growing rate of breast cancer above, and all sorts of other links I can share if you're curious). Many we don't have control over (pollution, pesticides used near us, etc).
But the skin care and cosmetics we use are something we do have control over. If we are able to choose safer products that perform as well as conventional, why not?
I love this study out of UC Berkeley a few years ago. It showed that by using safer products for just a few days, the teen girls in the study saw a significant reduction in the amount of hormone disruptors in their body. Imagine the impact to our collective health if we could change the industry so that these ingredients with known issues were no longer allowed?
Curious about your current products? Check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database. You can look up products (many but not all are in there) or individual ingredients to see where they fall in terms of carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and allergens/irritants.