This Thing You Use Every Day Might Actually Be Killing You

I’m not going to lie–usually, if I hear the word “toxin,” I am all but forced to roll my eyes into the very back of my head. It’s one of those buzzwords that tend to propagated by scammy  “lifestyle” brands like Goop and Fit Tea that, once you actually think about it, doesn’t really have any real meaning. But now, there is a new, science-approved reason for you to start using the word because, apparently, lots and lots of toxins are hiding in your shampoo and makeup.

According to Time, new research done at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine indicates that health-related complaints about makeup, shampoo, and other cosmetics have reached an all-time high over the past decade, which is when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started tracking them. This study found that between 2004 and 2016, an average of 396 cosmetic-related health concerns were reported per year, with an increase between 2015 to 2016. Hair care, skincare, and tattoo products were the three most highly-cited items in the study.  Researchers didn’t specify the exact cause, but it’s likely because there are a number of unregulated chemicals that go into beauty products–like parabens, phlalates, synthetic fragrances and dyes, and more–that have been linked to a number of illnesses and skin disorders.



This is tough to deal with on a personal level because, unfortunately, the system basically encourages cosmetics companies to make faulty products. Cosmetics companies have surprisingly few regulations regarding the creation of their products and do not require FDA approval before going on the market. They also have don’t have any legal obligation to report health problems from their products to the FDA–instead, the FDA relies on self-reporting from consumers and doctors regarding any health issues the products might cause, which means that they are most likely under-reported.

So, this is scary. But are you totally powerless? Not exactly. If you’re really freaked out about chemicals in your beauty products, you can try using natural brands (though, it should be noted, so-called “natural” brands don’t have to comply with FDA regulations either, so it’s probably a good idea for you to check out the ingredients list to be safe). You can also try making your own beauty products–Pinterest has a lot of surprisingly good tutorials that don’t use any unnatural chemicals. You can also talk to a dermatologist to see which conventional products they consider to be safe and which ones they don’t.



And, most importantly, if you notice that a product you’re using is causing you some health issues, like breakouts, hair loss, or rashes, stop using it! Then, report it to the FDA database. Does it suck that you have to report it yourself? Yes, but there have been some small victories against beauty corporations recently–last month, a St. Louis jury awarded a woman $110.5 million after she sued Johnson & Johnson for using talc in their baby powder, which she says gave her ovarian cancer.

So, hopefully, consumers fighting back will help health regulations–which should already be standard, but whatever–become the norm in the beauty industry.


Are you surprised at all by this? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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