September 2008

C2 Green Space: Cosmetic Report (well, sort of)

Author: Elisabeth Reed

A closer look at the ingredients in the products inside your medicine cabinet.

I have freckles. And I’m not just talking about a few freckles, I mean it when I say, “I have freckles.” I once had a friend that said, “I love freckles. I have them too- I have one on my elbow, one on my thigh and one on my shoulder.” I laughed at the thought of being able to actually count my freckles. I have not always been comfortable with my freckly skin and can still hear my freckled family telling me to appreciate, what in my eyes, was flawed skin. “They are kisses from angels,” I can hear my grandmother say. Over the years I began to accept these dots and have (no pun intended) grown into my skin.

Needless to say, like most freckled people, I have also been blessed with sensitive skin and an aversion to the sun. Despite a small glitch during my teenage years of fake baking and applying Wet n’ Wild mascara, I am somewhat of a skin care aficionado. Over the years, I have purchased the latest and greatest in lotions, deodorants, toothpaste…you name it. Of course, I have had my fair share of ups and downs on this journey. I have purchased facial lotions that burned my cheeks, toners that left me peeling for days and exfoliating scrubs that brought tears to my eyes. Alas, I have settled into a nice collection of lotions and soaps than keep me clean and moisturized all the while preventing acne, leaving my skin unirritated and well, a little less pink that it’s normal red hue. I have my favorite brands and was confident that the lotions and washes I have been using are quality, safe products, especially considering the price tag.

That is until now. The most recent study findings released concerning skin care products is nothing but alarming. According to the Environmental Working Group, the FDA does no systematic reviews of safety. That means that nearly 90% of ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution. And as people apply an average of 126 unique ingredients on their skin daily, these chemicals are raising concerns, for their potential impacts to human health and to the environment. While I am not one to fall for the “fear factor” tactics, I have learned, especially living with sensitive skin, that it is important to do some research before applying a product to your body. I realized however that I have been in a comfortable routine with my skin care products for the last several years. With the latest findings, I decided it was time to clean house and learn more about the products living behind my medicine cabinet.

0-2 Low Harzard 3-7 Medium Hazard 8-10 High Hazard
Learn more about the ratings at www.cosmeticdatabase.com

MAYBELLINE GREAT LASH MASCARA
Cosmetic Database Rating: 5
Green Space Case: I’ve been using this mascara for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately according to the Cosmetic Database, this mascara is tested on animals. How? I’m not sure…but I think it’s time for me to start shopping around.
Will continue to use this product: NO

KIEHL’S ULTRA FACIAL
MOISTURIZER SPF 15
Cosmetic Database Rating: 5
Green space case: No more than any product on this page am I more loyal to this lotion. The Cosmentic Database ranks this lotion in the moderate category due to the Oxybenzone, a sunscreen agent that may or may not be linked to photoallergenic reactions. While a photoallergenic reaction does not sound desirable, the sunburns I have experienced from not wearing enough SPF have been severely unpleasant. In other words, I’ll take my chances.
Will continue to use this product: YES

ST. IVES APRICROT SCRUB
BLEMISH & BLACKHEAD CONTROL
Cosmetic Database Rating: 8
Green space case: Oops! This is another product I have used for years. Not only does it sluff off dead skin leaving my skin super soft, it gives me that extra wake up call in the morning. This scrub gets such a high rating due to the high content of Ceteareth-20 (can cause severe skin irritation), Fragrance (allergic reactions) and Peg-100 Stearate (another skin irritant) Well, maybe I will just use it once in a while…
Will continue to use this product: YES

MUSTELA BEBE 2 IN 1 HAIR AND BODY WASH
Cosmetic Database Rating: 5
Green Space Case: I have used this wash on my son since he was born and was surprised by this moderate rating. After investigating, the database gives this a rating of 5 because of the fragrance content which can lead to an allergic reaction. We have safely used this product for over a year now and luckily, the fragrance content hasn’t bothered my little guy, although I might have been more cautious if I had known this from the beginning.
Will continue to use this product: YES

TOMS OF MAINE NATURAL ANTICAVITY FLOURIDE TOOTHPASTE
Cosmetic Database Rating: 1
Green Space Case: Yeah for me! Finally I have a product that ranks in the low hazard category. Not only is this product a natural alternative to other fluoride toothpaste I prefer the spearmint flavor for the mild way it cleans my teeth without the intense flavor like other products I have used.
Will continue to use this product: YES

AVEENO THERAPEUTIC
SHAVE GEL
Cosmetic Database Rating: 5
Green Space Case: Although I have yet to find a shaving gel (or razor for that matter) that leaves my skin truly irritation-free, I have felt confident that this product was the best choice for me because of the “For Sensitive Skin” label on the packaging. According to the Cosmetic Database, because this product is tested on animals and contains ingredients such as Triclosan (a skin irritant) and Triethanolamine (an immune toxicant) this shaving gel gets a moderate rating of 5. The animal testing is a deal breaker for me so I will begin shopping for another shaving gel.
Will continue to use this product: NO

DEGREE ANTIPERSPIRANT & DEODERANT SOFT SOLID
Cosmetic Database Rating: 4
Green Space Case: With all the controversy around deoderant and the aluminum content, I was surprised that the Cosmetic Database gave my deoderant a moderate rating. Until I can find a product that is all natural and really works in our lowcountry heat, I’m sticking with this stick.
Will continue to use this product: YES

After evaluating my skin care products, I realized what a good lesson I had just learned: not in cosmetics but in marketing 101. As consumers, we are often fooled by packaging, commercials and other gimmicks to woo us into products that seem healthy and safe. While this is by no means a scientific study, it was an eye-opening experience. Just as I scan the food labels at the grocery store for fat and sodium content, I will begin to examine the labels on my skin care products and learn about the ingredients they are made of. My freckles deserve it.

THE INGREDIENTS IN MOST OF OUR SKIN CARE PRODUCTS COULD BE GREEK FOR ALL WE KNOW. START DEVELOPING KNOWLEDGE BASE OF PRODUCT INGREDIENTS. HERE ARE FEW KEY INGREDIENTS TO LOOK OUT FOR:

ALUMINUM STARCH OCTENYLSUCCINATE
Cosmetic Data Base Rating: 9
Packaging may say: Absorbent; Anticaking Agent; Viscosity Increasing Agent – Nonaqueous, Viscosity Controlling
Warnings: Moderate evidence of human nervous system toxicant.

OXYBENZONE (BENZOPHENONE-3)
Cosmetic Data Base Rating: 8
Packaging may say: Sunscreen Agent, UV Absorber, UV Filter
Warnings: One or more human case studies show significant photoallergenic effects and one or more animal studies show brain and nervous system effects at high doses.

TRIETHANOLAMINE
Cosmetic Data Base Rating: 7
Packaging may say: pH Adjuster, Emulsifying Agent, Buffering, Masking
Warnings: Strong evidence of human immune and respiratory toxicant and limited evidence of carcinogenicity (cancer causing ingredient).

PARABEN
Cosmetic Data Base Rating: 7
Packaging may say: Cleansing Agent; Surfactant, Solubilizing Agent, Emulsifying
Warnings: One or more animal studies show brain and nervous system effects at moderate doses, limited evidence of sense organ toxicity, one or more in vitro tests on mammalian cells show positive mutation results

SILICA
Cosmetic Data Base Rating: 7
Packaging may say: Absorbent; Anticaking Agent; Bulking Agent; Opacifying Agent; Suspending Agent- Nonsurfactant
Warnings: Strong evidence of cancer causing ingredients, known human respiratory toxicant, human musculoskeletal toxicant and human immune system toxicant.

SORBITAN LAURATE
Cosmetic Data Base Rating: 6
Packaging may say: Fragrance, Preservative
Warnings: One or more animal studies show reproductive effects at high doses endocrine system disruption at high doses and skin irritation at moderate doses.
source: www.cosmeticdatabase.com

STOP AT THESE LOCAL SHOPS TO FIND NATURAL, ORGANIC SKIN CARE PRODUCTS. ASK THE SALES ASSOCIATES FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE INGREDIENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL CARE ITEMS.

GOOD HEALTH UNLIMITED
55 Mathews Dr # 170, Morningstar plaza
(843) 681-7701

HEALTHY DAYS HEALTH FOOD STORE
1 N Forest Beach Dr # I3, Coligny Plaza
843-785-7297

SCENTS OF HILTON HEAD
1000 William Hilton Pkwy # E8, the Village at Wexford
843- 842-7866

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