I feel so proud and blessed to be an American. But, after traveling the world the past 10 years, I’ve realized the harsh reality that America is not the best at everything like we’re raised to believe as children. In fact, the FDA has pretty lax regulations when it comes to the ingredients found in our food and personal care products.
After living abroad in Costa Rica for 4 months, my husband and I returned to the U.S. with a whole new outlook on our homeland. For the first few months back in the states, we were vegetarians because when eating hormone-free, grass-fed beef and cage -free chicken in Costa Rica, we realized how meat should really taste. We also realized, after buying our produce at the local farmers market each week, what size fruits and vegetables should be – without ripening agents and the various chemicals they use in fertilizers. We’ve since tried to be much more aware of the food we consume here in America.
I had another eye opening experience on a recent trip to Portugal. While getting ready one day, I dropped my foundation, which was in a glass bottle. It shattered all over the bathroom floor and left me walking the streets near our hotel in search of a store that sold cosmetics. We finally found a specialty store filled with makeup. I wandered around, too intimidated to ask for help because I didn’t speak Portuguese, and couldn’t find many of the popular brands I was used to seeing in the U.S. I shrugged it off, got some help, and purchased the closest thing I could find to the foundation I was used to wearing.
Then, I recently discovered this shocking news…
So let’s get this straight. The European Union bans approximately 1,400 harmful chemicals and ingredients from personal care products and Canada restricts around 600.
But, the United States only bans 30?
So I guess it turns out, the reason I didn’t see many of the popular U.S. cosmetic brands I was familiar with, was because they contain ingredients that are BANNED IN EUROPE!
While there’s been a few efforts since the 90’s to ban unsafe chemicals in personal care products, there’s still a really long way for us to go. It wasn’t too long ago that there were only 11 ingredients that were banned. But, clearly, there’s still such a huge gap between what the U.S. finds unsafe and what other countries do. Just look at the FDA’s page on restricted and prohibited cosmetics compared to this 151 page document in the Official Journal of the European Union regarding cosmetic products and Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist.
What does this mean for you?
Ultimately, you have to protect yourself and can’t assume that the FDA or any brands that claim to be “all natural” will look out for you and your body. Educate yourself on the harmful ingredients that could be lurking in your makeup, lotions, soaps, and other every day skincare essentials. You can also check the ratings of your products by using the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep database. Swap out products you have that you find those harmful chemicals in for safer ones and of course, share this information with your loved ones and help protect them, too.
You can be an advocate for change, too. We’ve teamed up with Beautycounter, not only for access to personal products that we can be 100% certain are safe and clean, but also to be a part of real change in our country. Beautycounter has a 5-step ingredient selection process and prohibits the use of more than 1,500 harmful and even questionable ingredients in their formulas. More importantly, they work hard to empower their customers and advocate for stricter guidelines and regulatory laws. Contact us if you’re interested in joining us on this fight to shift the personal care industry.