Our skin, the largest organ of the human body, protects us in many ways. Amazingly, it is also porous, allowing the body's waste to be eliminated and allowing substances to be absorbed.

 

Regulation

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the cosmetic industry, which includes all bath and body care products, such as shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, cologne, perfume, etc.

According to the FDA, "With the exception of colors and certain prohibited ingredients, a cosmetic manufacturer may use essentially any raw material in a product and market it without prior FDA approval." (FDA, 2005) Of the over 10,000 ingredients used in cosmetics, the FDA has prohibited 8 ingredients and allows restricted use of 3 ingredients. By comparison, for cosmetic products, the European Union prohibits the use of over 1,300 ingredients classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction and restricts approximately 60 ingredients.

 

How to Read a Cosmetic Labels

Federal Law requires all cosmetic labels to list ingredients in descending order of amounts. The good news: if we are educated consumers we can select only healthy products that meet our own personal standards. Need help knowing what to look for?

The guides below will help you read labels so you can better protect your family. Learn what ingredients to avoid in both personal care and cosmetic products. We also have a list of ingredients that we recommend you avoid, products they are commonly found in, and alternatives that are safer for your family and for the planet. 

Published on January 31, 2017

News

Press Release  |  October 10, 2019
The toxic chemicals used in fire retardants and non-stick cookware have been found in artificial turf carpet, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and The Ecology Center. This raises new public health and environmental concerns.
Press Release  |  October 10, 2019
The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, announced that it will phase out the sale of all carpets and rugs containing PFAS chemicals. The company will stop purchasing for distribution any carpets or rugs containing PFAS chemicals by the end of 2019.
News  |  September 27, 2019
Retired cancer doctor, Ecology Center Health Leadership Fellow alumna, and environmental health champion Elaine Chottiner discusses PFAS public education and legislative advocacy.
News  |  July 25, 2019
Our past testing has exposed phthalates in our food supply. This led us to ask: how are phthalates contaminating our food? Which prompted us to undertake the largest study of its kind on vinyl food-handling gloves: Taking off the Toxic Gloves: An Investigation of Phthalates...
Press Release  |  July 25, 2019
An alarming new report finds that disposable PVC food-handling gloves used in restaurants nationwide may contain toxic plasticizer chemicals called ortho-phthalates (THAL-eights) that leach into the food we eat.
Press Release  |  July 10, 2019
July 11, 2019—Today, Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program released its first-ever company ranking survey in the new report, Children’s Car Seat Chemical Policy Report Card 2019. The study surveyed 12 leading car seat companies on their corporate chemical policies & practices.