Beauty Facts

While we are very passionate about the dangers of the beauty industry, we try always lead with facts.

  • The average adult uses 9 personal care products daily and is exposed to over 168 chemicals every day.[1]
  • Due to gaping loopholes in federal law, companies can put virtually any ingredient into personal care products. Even worse, the government does not require pre-market safety tests for any of them.[2]
  • The EU banned the use of 1109 chemicals in its personal care products-including sodium laurel sulphate, found in most shampoos.
  • The FDA has banned the use of only 9 chemicals in personal care products sold in the US, in the last 67 years.
  • The FDA do NOT require any pre-market safety tests of cosmetics. “The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act defines drugs as those products that cure, treat, mitigate or prevent disease or that affect the structure or function of the human body. While drugs are subject to a review and approval process by FDA, cosmetics are not approved by FDA prior to sale.”
  • Of the more than 10,000 chemical ingredients in cosmetic/personal care products 89% have not undergone any safety testing.
  • More than 1 in 5 personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer, 80% contain ingredients that commonly contain hazardous impurities, and 56% contain penetration enhancers that help deliver ingredients deeper into the skin.[3]
  • Children are at particular risk from exposures to personal care product ingredients. Their skin is significantly thinner than an adult’s, their ability to detoxify and excrete chemicals can be limited, and at birth the blood-brain barrier that can block chemicals’ access to brain tissue is not complete.[4]
  • Scientists have found many common cosmetic ingredients in human tissues, including industrial plasticizers called phthalates in urine, preservatives called parabens in breast tumor tissue and urine , and persistent fragrance components like musk xylene in human fat, blood, and breast milk.[5]
  • Over the past four years scientists have published at least 10 epidemiology studies linking phthalates to birth defects in baby boys, reproductive problems in men, abdominal obesity, increased diabetes risk, thyroid problems, as well as asthma and dermal diseases in children.[9] Some phthalates are banned from personal care product use in the EU; none are restricted in the U.S.
  • 97% of Americans are contaminated with a widely used sunscreen ingredient called oxybenzone that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage.[7]
  • Phthalate plasticizers linked to birth defects of the male reproductive system and other health problems remain in common use in nail care products.[8]
  • Companies still use hydroquinone in skin lighteners, despite FDA’s proposed restrictions and warnings that the ingredient can lead to permanent skin disfigurement and may be linked to cancer and reproductive problems.[9]
  • Cosmetics contain a wide variety of ingredients derived from animal organs and tissues, including placenta expelled from cows.[10]
  • Studies show common lead contamination in lipstick.[11]

[1] - EWG 2004
[2] - OCA 2008, EWG 2007c, Steinman 2007
[3] - EWG 2004
[4] - NRC 1993, EWG 2007d
[5] - CDC 2005
[6] - Müller et al. 1996, Eisenhardt et al. 2001, Reiner et al. 2007
[7] - Stahlhut et al. 2007, Meeker et al. 2007, Huang et al. 2007, Duty et al. 2003a, 2003b, 2004, and 2005, Hauser et al. 2007, Hauser et al. 2006, Wormuth et al. 2006, Marsee et al. 2006, Swan et al. 2005, Bornehag et al. 2004, Lottrup et al. 2006
[8] - Calafat et al. 2008b
[9] - EWG 2008a, EWG 2000, Houlihan et al. 2002
[10] - FR 2006
[11] - EWG 2008c