We often hear stories about the potentially harmful chemicals in our air, food, and water supply but a less talked about story is the chemicals in our beauty products – specifically the chemicals that are banned in other places like the European Union and Canada. Why is there such a discrepancy? What do other countries see that the United States FDA doesn’t?

American Regulation – Not What You Think

Well, for starters, our process is different. The way our laws are set up in America, the FDA only has jurisdiction over substances identified as “drugs.” What that means in reality is that unless a beauty product contains one of those classified drugs – the other ingredients in the product are left to the discretion of the companies that create them. As you can imagine, this setup creates a system that’s fraught with problems and lacking essential oversight.

EU vs. America

It’s this poorly designed system that has led the US to ban 11 chemicals found in beauty products and the EU to ban 1,300 – but there are people taking action to ensure we have safer products in the future.

Research on the Right Path

Student researchers at UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women recently completed a survey of “fragranced products”, their use and possible side effects. Fragrance in this survey is defined as an overarching term that represents mixtures that can contain any number of over 3,000 chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, and allergens. Based on their results, they are calling for greater regulation.

Be Your Own Advocate

And we as consumers can vote with our pocket books. We can educate ourselves about the chemicals found in our beauty products and make safer, healthier choices. A healthy planet starts with healthy people and a step in the right direction starts with removing as many of the carcinogenic and reactive chemicals from the products we’re using as possible.

About the Author

Meredith Lipscomb

Meredith, a former professional in the software industry, has come to the Mrs. Green’s World team through an unlikely journey that took her through the world of non-profit management and on to becoming a part of MGW. Helping people understand climate change and what we can do about it – is very near and dear to her heart. She lives in Tucson with her family and too many pets.