Dawn is the owner of Seattle Hill Soap Company and formulates natural and safe soaps and skin care items that are enhanced by herbs, botanicals or clays. You can find Seattle Hill Soap Company at www.seattlehillsoaps.com.
Recently, Colorado tried to pass a cosmetic safety bill that would limit certain ingredients contained in personal care products. Although this bill was well intentioned, it went to silly extremes. Now I’m not one to argue against limiting or banning questionable chemicals used in our cosmetics, but new cosmetic safety laws need to make sense.
There are certain mainstream chemicals I refuse to use in my soaps and skin care items. One biggie is diethyl phthalate, which is a chemical used to soften plastics. It’s frequently found in cosmetic fragrance oils to prolong a fragrance's life. If you look up diethyl phthalate, you will see associated health issues with this chemical. The FDA’s stance is that products that contain them are at low enough doses to not pose any health hazards. My viewpoint is this: If you are using 25 or more products per day with this chemical, is your exposure really that low? Further, what about people who have skin conditions that are exacerbated by this chemical and others like it?
Photo by Mankamundo [Back to the Grind]/Courtesy Flickr
New York is introducing a bill that makes sense to me. It will require cosmetic manufacturers to place warnings on their labels if certain chemicals are in their formulations, hidden or otherwise. Phthalates are one of those chemicals.
In the meantime, how does one know what is really in their cosmetics? A good start is The Environmental Working Group’s online database called Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. It is free to use and you can look up any cosmetic ingredient to find out what its health hazards are, if any. I use this database when creating my new formulations to be sure my skin care products are truly body-friendly.
Of course, no solution is without a caveat. In the case of diethyl phthalate, you will probably never see it listed in a cosmetic because it’s inside of another ingredient that the FDA allows to be called “fragrance.” Some fragrances have it and some do not, so it is up to the consumer to ask if their products contain phthalates. Hopefully the New York bill will catch on in the U.S. so consumers can be better alerted to these substances.