April 19, 2014

Natural Cosmetics - Be Aware as Labels can often be Misleading

Natural products usually contain natural ingredients right? Well you would think so, but sometimes what we are sold as all natural products have very misleading labels meaning that what you think is good for your skin can actually be harmful instead. 

Reading Labels Correctly 

We are as consumers protected by certain rules and regulations set by the FDA regarding how skincare products are labeled. There are laws on how each product is labeled but those laws can be abused slightly leading to misleading or incomplete information. Skin care products have their ingredients listed in descending order with the highest volume first, but manufacturers do not have to put each ingredient by percentage so this is where they can be a little non-committal about the exact amounts.  Just recently it has come to light that 2 extremely well known and respected cosmetic companies had toxic materials, known to be potentially cancer causing in their beauty products. We could argue and say that those products were not labeled as natural, however the fact remains that they still contained ingredients that are damaging to our health which the manufacturers did not state on the labels – a classic case of misleading the public by not stating all of the ingredients contained in their products on the labels. 

What are the Present Rules Regarding the Labeling of Skin Care and Cosmetic Products? 

The current rules and regulations can be found on the FDA website and are quite a lengthy and long winded read. To summarize, the rules state that all products whether natural or not must state the ingredients in order of the largest amount first. There is nothing stated that says you must use the common name of those ingredients – ingredients that the public would understand much easier than some of the chemical formulas and jargon we are faced with. Of course this does not stop you from doing your own research – and especially now with most of us having internet at home we can find out about ingredients without having to snoop too hard. In fact I encourage everyone to become and internet sleuth and learn the truth about the ingredients in your skin care products and also other items we use daily. However, in some cases the ingredients are not quite listed correctly due to a loophole that allows the distributor to keep the original ingredients list (from the manufacturer) on the product – In this case the ingredients are only described under the laws of the country they were bottled or packaged in, which may not be the USA. 

How to Find Out More About Your Cosmetic and Skin Care Products 

As discussed previously you can easily research online what the ingredients of any cosmetic products are and the best way to take a closer look at certain products would be to check them out on the EWG Skin Deep Database. Here you will find a vast array of products and information on how safe they are to use. Educating yourself is easy with the help of EWG Skin Deep and once you have learnt to use the website you will find it extremely helpful and honest. Using the Skin Deep website you can check up on many everyday products, skin care, cosmetics, baby care and other items we all use regularly. Environmental Working Group started up the Skin Deep Database to expose the amount of harmful products that are on our supermarket shelves and also dispel a few myths about the dangers of these products. To be frank, the EWG website makes for some shocking reading and I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks that way – if there has ever been a website that made you sit up and take notice then the EWG Skin Deep Database may just be it. 

How EWG can Help you 

If you do a quick search on the EWG Skin Deep Database for natural products you will find a total of 2,707 results. Filter them by selecting “Data available Good or better” and that number will shrink to 108 products. If a product you are using is classified by the EWG as having a risk rating above level 3 then there is a strong possibility that this product could be damaging, ideally any products that you use on yourself or other family members should have a risk rating of 0-1 to be classed as safe. The amount of chemicals and toxins found in the air, our clothes, products and foods we eat, rises each year so taking the time to check out how to avoid being exposed to any products that are potentially harmful is the least we can do.