scaremongering cosmetics

Article by: Perry Romanowski

While surfing the Internet looking for information about cosmetics you can’t help but stumble onto negative information about the “toxic” chemicals evil corporations put into their products.  We once posted a list of the most vilified cosmetic chemicals which included… scaremongering cosmetics

1. Parabens
2. Diazolidiny Urea
3. Diethanolamine
4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
5. Petrolatum
6. Mineral Oil
7. Propylene Glycol
8. Triclosan
9. Fragrance
10. Color pigments
11. PEG — Polyethylene Glycol
12. Talc

A couple more ingredients that should be added to this list are

13. BPA
14. Phthalates

Evidence of danger

The thing that I find frustrating about the information shared about these ingredients is that it is incredibly biased and often just wrong.  Or the purveyors of this BS jump to conclusions about preliminary studies then ignore any kind of follow-up by researchers.

Parabens are an excellent example.  According to the fearmongering groups, parabens are dangerous chemicals that shouldn’t be used in cosmetics.  But when a group of independent scientists (actual toxicologists) hired by the EU governments went through all the safety data and determined that parabens are safe as used in cosmetics, did the fearmongering group go back and revise it’s stance?

No.  They don’t care about science.  They exist to scare people,harass cosmetic companies, and generate money through donations.  They have no interest in actually educating people about products & product safety.

They don’t care that a group like the European Food Safety Authority has looked at the safety data of BPA and determined that BPA does not pose a risk in cosmetics.  You will still see the fearmongers shouting about irrelevant hazards.  And lazy, clueless reporters will take up the torch and continue to pass misinformation.  These reporters lack the integrity to throughly investigate the topics they write about.

Making things less safe

Worse is that these groups are prompting companies to find alternatives that are actually making products less safe.  The folks at Badger Sunscreen are adamant about avoiding parabens and surprise, surprise, they sold low quality product that was dangerously contaminated.  Worse yet, it was a children’s product.  There should have been a much bigger fine for a company that would release under-preserved product.

And all those BPA replacements?  Yeah they are less safe too.

Watchdog groups done right

While I criticize these groups I do believe that they can provide a service to consumers and to the cosmetic industry.  It is perfectly legitimate to have a listing of chemicals of concern.  However, that should just be a starting point.  If there is evidence that the ingredients on your list are actually not harmful (as has been proven for most of the vilified ingredients) then they should acknowledge that and stop spreading misinformation.

I would love to see a world where we have science-based groups that are looking out for the safety of consumers.  Unfortunately, there aren’t any at the moment.

So, when should a cosmetic chemical considered safe?

When the best science available says it is.  And it should be toxicologists who make that determination, not clueless reporters or fearmongering groups run by English majors not educated in the subject of science.

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4 comments

  1. Carol

    I am not a cosmetic chemist, although I am a parent looking to put safe products on my children’s skin/in their environment. I am trying to make sense of these “unsafe” ingredients listed in the article (and found on EWG, Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, etc….). I wonder if (some of) your readership are in my shoes? If so, what about a post explaining why these ingredients you listed are NOT a concern – “busting the myths”. (i.e. – why is an alcohol ethoxylation byproduct 1,4 dioxane not a concern, why is the formaldehyde off gas in ureas not a concern, diethylhexyl phthalate in fragrances…on and on. Cosmeticsinfo.org has some good info. too, but would like your two cents. Thanks for your consideration.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Thanks for the idea Carol. The main reason is because it is a matter of the dose and the exposure levels but I’ll work on a more thorough post

  2. Margreat

    Would these fear-mongerers like to know there is methylparaben and butylated hydroxytoluene in blueberries, I wonder? :).

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Great point! Facts don’t always matter to some people.

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