Let’s seriously think about the potential risks in the personal care products we use every day. Astonishingly, this is still rarely discussed and focused on, even as the food industry has moved far ahead with regulations that control the use of dangerous chemicals. When I started thinking about homemade skincare products, I looked for answers to three main questions:
- Is anything we apply on our skin really absorbed into our system, or does it just stay on the surface, making it less dangerous than its intake?
- Surely there must be regulations to ban dangerous chemicals in personal care products?
- If such small quantities of chemicals go into products, shouldn’t their impact be very minimal?
Here are the answers I found (which eventually led me to start making homemade products):
Does our skin absorb any dangerous chemicals?
Yes it does. Skin is our largest organ! The particles of some chemicals are small enough to penetrate into our bloodstream, and generally, in personal care products up to 60% of a substance can be absorbed into our system through the skin.
So how regulated (or unregulated) is the beauty industry?
Not very regulated…
“89% of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety”, says the Washington-based Environmental Working Group. Other research states: “1 in 5 of all products contain chemicals linked to cancer, 80% contain ingredients that commonly contain hazardous impurities, and 56% contain penetration enhancers [which make it easier to penetrate the upper level of skin.”
In short, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other governing bodies do not regulate safety measures but accept the assessments and test results made by the very companies that manufacture the products.
A few chemicals won’t hurt us, right?
Here is the problem… A small quantity of mixed chemicals not only accumulates over the years, but may well have a cocktail effect.
Sadly but truly we need to be more aware as consumers. The good news is that there are some easy recipes that you can get started on today to replace some of those harmful products and reduce or avoid completely the chemicals absorbed by your skin.