It's October, and nearly everywhere you shop, you'll find products swathed in pink and the recognizable pink ribbon that's a symbol for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
But just as some companies use “green-washing” techniques to sell products as Earth-friendly when they really contain harmful chemicals, some beauty experts say that many products stamped with the pink ribbon may actually contain cancer-causing agents, though they are true to their fundraising promises.
“Most skin care products actually do contain ingredients that are known carcinogens. Consumers can research this on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration website,” said former beauty chemist David Pollock in a news release. Pollock is author of “Just Stop the Lies: Secrets the Beauty Industry Doesn't Want You to Know” and hosts a one-hour syndicated radio show called “Beauty Inside Out — With David Pollock” that airs live on RadioMD.com at 11 a.m. Tuesdays. He posts beauty recipes and answers beauty and health questions at his website, www.JustAskDavid.com.
Danger of absorption?
“Just to put things in perspective, in Europe 1,100 ingredients are regulated or banned from skin care products. In the U.S., only 11 ingredients are regulated in skin care. And up to 60 percent of these harmful ingredients used in skin care products can be absorbed into your body. My recommendation is that the American public should avoid purchasing products that contain known carcinogens, even if they have a pink ribbon. No one should feel that they cannot make a difference or have no voice. Recently, some big U.S.-based companies have made global decisions to improve their practices based on consumer demand.”
One such company is Walmart, which recently announced a plan to phase out about 10 hazardous chemicals from personal care products, cosmetics and cleaning products sold in its stores. According to news releases, Walmart will begin monitoring the progress made on reducing and eliminating the chemicals and will issue public reports in January 2016.
“The objective of this policy is to help ensure that household cleaning, personal care, beauty and cosmetic products sold by Walmart will minimize hazards to people or the environment,” company representatives said in a statement.
Walmart's announcement followed a September announcement from Procter & Gamble Co., that it will eliminate phthalates and triclosan from its beauty products by 2014. In 2012, Johnson & Johnson pledged to eliminate phthalates, triclosan, formaldehydes and parabens from all its personal care products globally. Some experts believe these are some of the chemicals Walmart plans to ban.
Here's a list provided by David Pollock of 10 ingredients to avoid in food and beauty products from his report, “Don't Buy Any Skin Care, Until You Read This.”
1Parabens — including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, benzylparaben, butylparaben
2PEG's and glycols — including polyethylene glycol (PEG), butylene glycol, propylene glycol, etc.
3Lauryl and laureth sulfates — including sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate
4Petrochemicals — including mineral oil, petrolatum, light liquid paraffin, petroleum distillate, mineral jelly, petroleum jelly
5Synthetic fragrance — a cocktail of potentially hundreds of chemicals
7Triehtanolamine — often listed as TEA
8Tricolsan — a popular antimicrobial agent for hand washes and sanitizers. The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of triclosan — some studies have suggested that it could increase the risk of infertility, early puberty and other hormone-related problems.
9Phthalates — plasticizers used to make a number of cosmetic ingredients often found in lipsticks, nail polishes, fragrances and hair sprays
10 1,4 dioxane — a contaminant formed as a byproduct during manufacturing of detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers and solvents — what's worse is that it is NOT required to be listed on the ingredient statement, but can be found in ingredients listed as PEG, polyehtylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene or anything ending with “-eth” or in “-oxynol”