Are beauty products the new cigarettes? This is the question explored in filmmaker Phyllis Ellis's new award-winning documentary, Toxic Beauty. The film explores the unregulated chemicals in personal care products and makes the argument that the industry's most problematic ingredients, which may include endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, irritants, and allergens, could be as toxic as cigarettes.
We were most shocked by these 3 jaw dropping facts:
- Cosmetic regulations have not been updated in 82 years. On June 25, 1938, Congress passed the Food, Drug and Cosmetics act of 1938, which prohibited the sale of cosmetics with any "poisonous or deleterious substance" or any "filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance" and that law has not been updated since. This is problematic because a lot has changed since 1938 and we have learned more about ingredients since then. In fact, at one time it was believed that mercury, arsenic, cigarettes, and BPA were safe. Despite the lack of progress on cosmetic regulations, Congress has addressed and improved the safety of other industries, including food, drugs, pesticides, toys, electronics, and tobacco. According to the Environmental Working Group, there are more rules governing the chemicals we spray on crops than the chemicals we spray on our bodies.
- Cosmetic ingredients are not reviewed for safety by a government agency before they go to market. This means that there are tens of thousands of ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. The industry operates with an "innocent until proven guilty" mindset where cosmetic ingredient regulations only kick in if consumers report problems after purchase.
- Europe has banned 1300 chemicals, while the US has only banned 11. Formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen in Europe is found in nail polish and hair straightening treatments in the US. Parabens, which have been linked to reproductive problems in Europe, have been banned there but are commonly used in many skin and hair products in the US as preservatives. According to The Guardian, European laws require manufacturers to prove to regulators that a product is safe before it can be used. The US has similar rules for new chemicals entering the market but no such precautionary principles for the thousands of potential toxins already in use.
While ingredient safety claims are widely debated, we believe that knowledge is power and educating yourself on ingredients will give you information to help you decide what to use on your body. In fact, it is the reason we are committed to ingredient transparency. When we were designing Each & Every, we wanted to ensure that our products included simple, safe, transparent ingredients that you can understand. This means that we only use ingredients that are rated as low health/hazard concern in EWG's Skin Deep Database. This also means that we fully disclose every single ingredient on the label and include the simple name for the ingredient so that you know exactly what you're putting on your body. You can read more about our ingredients and shop our product here.
It can be overwhelming to overhaul your beauty routine, so we recommend starting small and swapping out one product at a time. You can read more tips in our guide to Cleaning Up Your Beauty Routine.