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iApprove: Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

December 18, 2008

Whew… I’ve been doing a lot of learning in the past twenty-four hours.  Mainly about cosmetics.

Turns out they’re full of toxins, see.  No, really.  All those lovely formulae that the companies promise will renew your hair and brighten your smile and destroy your acne are made of highly questionable chemicals, including skin irritants, known carcenogens, hormones (seriously!), and neurotoxins.

All of which spell bad news for the consumer.

Maybe if we weren’t so cosmetic-dependent, this wouldn’t be a problem.  I mean, a little lead in your lipstick now and again isn’t going to hurt much, right?  Unfortunately, the average American isn’t satisfied with a little bit of lipstick on occasion.  We go through daily routines including shampoo, conditioner, facial cleansers, skin cleansers, and a full set of makeup.

All of which contain toxins.

Bottom line is, we – the cosmetics consumers – are in a whole lot of trouble.  See, we’re just as capable of absorbing toxins through our skin as we are all those wonderful vitamins infused into our shampoos, and they’ve been having an effect.  Pthalates – a common ingredient in perfumes, which nearly every product contains – have been linked to underdeveloped male reproductive anatomy, for example.  They get there through the misguided absorption of pregnant and nursing women.  Myriads of other chemicals have been linked to brain damage, birth defects, and other problems.  While I can’t guarantee that each chemical is the definite cause of what they’re blaming it for, one thing is for sure: we’re using many more synthetic cosmetics than we used to, and we’re having way more of these problems than we used to.

Shouldn’t the FDA be regulating this stuff?  Well, yes, they should.  But the FDA’s rules concerning cosmetics are notoriously lax.  You can’t even check a product for pthalates, because the manufacturers are not required to include the ingredients used in their parfum (scent).  And since they haven’t decided yet what levels of lead are safe in lipstick, manufacturers can include as much as they darned well please.

Surrounded by these hideously toxic products, what can we do to protect ourselves?  (Besides avoiding showers, a la Batman. I can’t see that going over too well.)  Well, that’s where Skin Deep comes in.  It’s an enormous database of cosmetics manufacturers, their products, and the ingredients used.  Each product is rated on a danger scale from 1 to 10 based on the chemicals contained.  You can easily search for your favorite products and see where they land.  If you’re not sure about an ingredient, just do a search and the site will tell you if there are any problems associated with it.  It’s not perfect – for example, it does not cover Avon’s Wild Country Aftershave – but it’s still extremely useful, and it will help you learn what to look out for.

Start searching at http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com/

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