I recently found myself standing in the body lotion aisle at the store recently, realizing that my search for a paraben-free lotion was going to be more difficult than I originally thought. Parabens are preservatives that are widely used in personal care products such as makeup, moisturizers, hair care, and shaving. There has been some speculation that these preservatives’ estrogenic activity may be linked to an increased cancer risk. Until more studies have been completed, I decided a “better safe than sorry” approach was warranted. Our family lives in a dry climate and we use a lot of hand and body lotion. We use it so quickly that shelf life isn’t really an issue.
While researching the issue online, I came across EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics database. If you really want to become depressed about the chemicals we put onto our bodies, enter your favorite products into the database and see what they may be doing to your health! And keep in mind; women aren’t the only consumers of these products. Anyone who uses hand lotion, soap, shampoo, etc., can look their favorite products up on the database. I, like most Americans, have been lulled into complacency, thinking there was some governmental agency that regulated the ingredients in anything that goes into our bodies. However, the FDA’s own website verifies that the Food and Drug Administration isn’t authorized to approve cosmetic ingredients. The FDA also cannot require companies to test their products for safety, and manufacturers are not even required to report problems to the FDA.
I started reading the ingredients on the products in my bathroom: shaving cream, lotion, hair gel, shampoo, conditioner, etc. I realized that without some sort of advanced chemistry degree, I was in way over my head. How was I supposed to make an informed decision on the safety of these items based on the ingredient list? Especially since companies are not required to list all of their ingredients on the package. And a search of the internet didn’t help me with a list of safe products from an unbiased source.
I understand the call for less governmental intrusion, but do the American people understand that corporations are the ones deciding what I put into and onto my body? Some of these chemicals make their way into body tissues; some are inadvertently ingested or inhaled (lipstick, face powder, hairspray…). Corporations exist to make money. If they can make a product cheaply, and no one knows that a certain ingredient (or combination of ingredients) is harmful, what incentive do they have to replace that ingredient with something safer?
Without some sort of oversight, corporations will do what is in the best interest of their stockholders. The best interest of the stockholders is profit.
Do the politicians calling for more deregulation realize that they themselves and their loved ones are all putting themselves at the mercy of companies for whom greed is their main purpose? Regulation serves a very real and very important purpose: the protection of the American people.
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