Is Your Bathroom A Minefield Of Toxins?

Unless you have already done some research into what ingredients are in the personal care products you use, the answer to the above question is most likely yes.  How is this so?  Well, there are major loopholes in U.S. federal law that allow the $50 billion beauty industry to put nearly any chemical they want into personal care products, even chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and disruption of our hormones, with no required safety assessment and inadequate labeling requirements.  In fact, back in May, the President's Cancer Panel sounded the alarm about the health risks of toxic substances used by millions of Americans in their daily lives.

Last week, The Story of Stuff Project released another compelling short film called The Story of Cosmetics (below), which employs the trademark Story of Stuff style to examine the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products, from lipstick to baby shampoo.

For more information about some of the startling facts discussed in the film click here.  And for more information on the recently introduced law discussed in the film see The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.

Okay, so now what?  Here are some ways you can reduce toxic exposures in your home:

  • Simplify: use less stuff less often, and choose products with shorter ingredient lists and fewer hazardous synthetic chemicals.

  • Just Say No to Fragrances: it’s best to avoid the mystery concoction known as “fragrance” because it is often made from a dozen or more secret chemicals.

  • Read Labels: there are great resources online to help consumers make more informed decisions.  One of the best is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database at, which ranks products for toxicity on a scale of 1 to 10.  Spend some time evaluating the products you use every day and odds are you will want to make some changes...I found out I need to find a new pomade and deodorant.

If this blog post strikes a cord with you, please pass it on to your friends and family.  Also, consider asking your U.S. Representative to support the Safe Cosmetics Act.

I am curious to know your thoughts:

Are you concerned about toxins in your personal care products?

If you looked up any of the products you commonly use on the Skin Deep database, were you surprised by what was in them?  If so, are you willing to switch products?