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  |  March 30, 2021
The latest annual report card scoring retailer actions on toxic chemicals is out. About 2/3 of the companies have made progress over the last year.
Undisclosed PFAS coatings common on cookware
Press Release  |  December 15, 2020
New report shows undisclosed PFAS coatings common on cookware. Ecology Center tested 24 nonstick cooking and baking pans to document hidden hazards and highlight readily available safer pan alternatives.
News  |  October 16, 2020
We are fortunate to be able to highlight some victories related to protecting people from toxic PFAS in our drinking water and environment.
PFAS in Fast Food Packaging
Press Release  |  August 6, 2020
The new report shows that all six food chains sampled had one or more food packaging items that likely contain toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)—chemicals known to threaten human health.
News  |  July 21, 2020
A new report, The Mattress Still Matters, released by the Ecology Center and the Getting Ready for Baby (GRfB) campaign makes it easier for parents to make an educated choice about crib mattresses and reveals a need for transparency in the crib mattresses market.
News  |  June 25, 2020
Ecology Center’s pioneering Healthy Stuff model combines low cost, rapid chemical screening techniques with creative and collaborative online campaigning to drive transparency and empower consumers in unprecedented ways.