Having examined the back of my moisturizer bottle, I realize that I do not have the slightest idea what I am rubbing onto my skin each morning. Sure, I could rattle off the ingredients if you asked and even possibly pronounce one or two correctly, but that simply means I can parrot what I’ve read not that I understand a single word. And the same holds true for most women. Unable to comprehend the back, we base our cosmetic purchases on the front of the bottle. And that is where we run into trouble. These days, a majority of products on the shelves carry an “organic” or “natural” stamp. And most consumers assume that, as with food, this means they’re better than those that don’t. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true.
The number of organic ingredients needed to deem a personal care item “organic” is negligible. Many of the products advertised as such have a drop of a natural product and a pound of synthetic chemicals. What’s the problem with this? Aside from the fact that we’re shelling out extra money for nothing, the chemicals we’re then applying to our skin are not doing us any good. There are more than 880 toxic chemicals in our personal care products and cosmetics. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, hormone imbalance and skin irritation. Skin irritation? Isn’t that defeating the purpose? Evidently, most manufacturers don’t think so. So, in the face of false advertising and unintelligible ingredient lists, how can we be sure that we’re actually using healthy, organic products?
First, we can take solace in companies like Burt’s Bees. Burt’s Bees is one of several organizations attempting to create guidelines that will regulate cosmetics labeling, making it more difficult to use the “natural” stamp. And, they want to create a list of non-natural products that can never be used. Moreover, while they’re working to make these guidelines a reality, Burt’s Bees is actually substituting organic alternatives for harmful ingredients. They are creating safe products. But if you aren’t a Burt’s Bees fan or you are emotionally attached to your current brand, you can check the toxicity of your cosmetics on Skin Deep, a site launched by the Environmental Work Group. Skin Deep ranks products and their ingredients on a scale of one to 10. With this site, you can make sense of that moisturizer bottle and rest easy, after you’ve applied your nighttime lotion of course.