The FDA is infamous for not really doing anything to regulate personal care products. Deodorants and antiperspirants, makeup and moisturizer, they can all pretty much contain whatever chemicals they want because the rules haven’t been changed since some time in the 1930s.
Luckily, a new piece of legislation has been proposed to help give the FDA some real power to regulate the cosmetics industry. And it needs some regulation.
Just How Bad is Our Current Chemical Exposure?
The proposed amendment is called the Personal Care Products Safety Act and is being sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans who are concerned about the lack of oversight.
A recent study by a nonprofit organization claims that the average American woman puts over 168 chemicals on her body every day. Between hand soaps and shampoos and detergents, it’s not hard to believe.
What’s harder to believe is just how many of those chemicals could cause cancer. While the FDA is supposed to be in charge of protecting consumers, they do such an abysmal job that there’s really no reliable way to know. Questionable chemicals go unquestioned year after year.
The FDA Starts Asking More Questions
Thankfully, under the new law the FDA will be evaluating the safety of five different chemicals every year. At that rate, it will take them quite a while to get to all 168 women are exposed to every day, but they’ll be starting with the most dangerous.
The first five are set to include the likes of diazolidinyl urea, lead acetate, methylene glycol/formaldehyde, propyl paraben, and quaternium-15.
Men and Teens Are Also at Risk
While the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 chemicals every day, men use fewer products but are still exposed to 85 chemicals on a daily basis. A study of teens found they typically use 17 personal care products, with 16 hormone-altering chemicals including parabens and phthalates making their way into their blood.
Are Most Chemicals Safe?
Some might be, but many more could have all kinds of untold health effects. Phthalates are known to cause reproductive issues. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that is present in almost 1 in 5 personal care products from shampoo to bubble bath. The frightening list goes on.
As the vice president of the Environmental Working Group says, “The FDA virtually has no power to regulate the products we use every day,” so there’s no way to be sure.
How to Avoid the Chemicals
Until the cosmetics industry really gets cleaned up, the best way to reduce your chemical exposure is by using natural, homemade products whenever possible.
You can make your own deodorant with this coconut oil recipe and your own soap with a few simple ingredients by following these directions. You can start using apple cider vinegar to wash your hair and use this coconut oil toothpaste to brush your teeth.
Until we know more about the chemicals in personal care products, this is the safest bet. It’s great that the FDA is being given more power, but there’s still a very long way to go.